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Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in mathematics before spending 18 months teaching in Tanzania. After that he returned to Britain to complete a PhD on Aston University's Interdisciplinary Higher Degrees Scheme (IHD). This focused on the policies and decision-making methods of voluntary organisations in Africa.
He has held a number of senior positions on developmental charities, including Head of International Service for the UK United Nations Association; Executive Director of the health care charity Health Link International; Deputy Director of the British Refugee Council, Chairperson of the London Friends of Palestine and UK Director of the Intermediate Technology Development Group. He also served on the boards of various organizations including War on Want, Oxfam UK, the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding and the Western Sahara Campaign (of which he has been Treasurer for the past 20 years).
Ritchie was the Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society from 1997 until 26 June 2010. He has stood for parliament three times as a Labour candidate: for Beckenham in 1987 and 1992, and Daventry in 1997. Both constituencies could be described as safe seats for the Conservative Party, and thus Ritchie was not elected. In 1987, he came third in Beckenham, but improved on this in 1992 by coming second. In the Tony Blair landslide of 1997, there was an 11.1% swing to Labour in Daventry, where he again came second, albeit by the narrowest majority in the seat since its 1974 recreation.
In 2006, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He has chaired The Reform Foundation and sat on the council of the Electoral Reform Society. He also represents the East Midlands on the Executive Committee of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform.
- Vincent, Ian (6 October 2017). "Daventry District Council elections, 5 May 2016" (pdf). Daventry District Council. Daventry: Returning Officer. p. 1. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
- Lyall, Sarah (8 May 2010). "Unclear Outcome at Polls Adds Urgency to Issue of Electoral Overhaul in Britain". The New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- "LCER - Executive Committee". Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
- Wheeler, Brian (24 September 2014). "The secret life of Labour's republicans". BBC News. Retrieved 20 February 2019. Ken Ritchie is misspelt as Ken Richey but is the same person.
- "CMIS > Councillors". cmis.daventrydc.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2019.