On the 5th May England and Wales go to the polls to elect 41 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). The inaugrural PCC elections in November 2012 were notable for the electorate not going to the polls.
There was an average voter turnout of 15%. Staffordshire was lowest with 11.6% and the BBC reported on a polling station in Wales where nobody voted. The Electoral Commission said it was the lowest recorded level of participation at a peacetime non-local government election in the UK
The low turnout was one reason a high number of independents beat the party-backed rivals.
The PCC elections use a supplementary vote system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the electors’ first preference vote then the top two receive the other candidates’ second preference votes.
In Sussex, Katy Bourne, a Conservative councillor from Haywards Heath was elected. The turnout was 15%
|Party||Candidate||1st Round Cotes||1st Round %||2nd Round Votes||Total|
|Liberal Democrat||David Rogers||20579||10.8%|
First preference votes from Sussex’s thirteen council counting stations show Labour doing well in Brighton and Crawley. The Tories received more votes in rural areas. The LibDems dived bombed and independent Ian Chisnall finished second everywhere except the final count.
Mr Chisnall said: If he had done better in Brighton, where he lives, and beaten Labour for second place he may have overtaken Katy Bourne in the run-off, as party supporters tend to choose an independent for their supplementary vote rather than a rival party.
Evidence from the other PCC elections back him up , Independents won more secondary votes in 15 out of the 16 regions where they reached the second round. In neighbouring Hamphire, Michael Mates, the Tory grandee, led by almost five thousand in the first round but independent Simon Hayes received 30 thousand more second preference votes in the run-off and was elected.
The low turn-out nationwide questions the legitimacy of the results and an Electoral Commission review blamed lack of candidate information for the lack of interest. This time a booklet will be delivered to every household detailing who is running and what for. With local elections being held on the same day the Commission expects a higher level of participation.
But when only 8 % of people know the name of their PCC and only 39% know they have one maybe Independents will continue running what many believe should be apolitical independent offices.