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Poor turnout in Westcountry Police and Crime Commissioner elections

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

Overall turnout figures for the Isles of Scilly have yet to be confirmed

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Early figures in the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections show an average of just 15 per cent of people in the Westcountry stepped out to vote.

With an average turnout of between 13 - 17 per cent in 10 of the 11 verified voting areas numbers have been in line with expectations.

The election results are being counted today from 11am and the ballot papers will be counted twice - a process expected to last nine hours.

Ten candidates – the most of any of the 41 elections nationally – are fighting for the £85,000-a-year post in Devon and Cornwall.

The victor, who will be announced this evening, will control key issues such as the police budget, overall strategy, and hold senior officers to account.

Despite being billed as the biggest change to policing for 50 years and bringing an unprecedented level of accountability to local policing, concerns have repeatedly been raised about the lack of public interest in the ballot.

And that appeared to be playing out across the two counties yesterday as candidates reported that polling stations were quiet.

Independent candidate Ivan Jordan said: "From what I have seen it is low. I went to one polling station and they said there had only been a turnout of 5% up until noon. I think if we get over 20% it will feel like a victory."

The Government refused to pay for candidate leaflets to be delivered to households, as is normal in General Elections. As result Mr Jordan said it had only done "half a job".

He added: "The fact it moved online and onto social media has probably done me a big favour. But it has been very hard talking to people in the street who have said they haven't had enough information to get a handle on it."

Numerous warnings have been issued about turnout with critics of the elections saying it would undermine new commissioners' mandate.

The Electoral Reform Society, which said fewer than one in five voters could turn out, described the situation as "a perfect storm, which could result in the lowest turnout for a national election in British history".

Another independent candidate Brain Greenslade said: "The feedback is that voting has been very slow and that projections the turnout could be very low are going to be realised."

Votes were last night being verified at centres across the two counties before being moved to the count at Carn Brea, in West Cornwall.

Counting will start at 11am with the winner due to be announced at 8pm.

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  • yorkie1957  |  November 17 2012, 7:59AM

    A spoiled vote is NOT a wasted vote! My husband and I chose to write "yet another waste of taxpayers money" across our ballot papers. Not voting is apathy, whereas deliberately spoiling a vote is a way of protesting-there lies the difference.

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  • John_Allman  |  November 17 2012, 3:12AM

    I didn't vote, because I emailed all the candidates, asking about a couple of particular issues to do with the way we are policed, and none of them replied. I had no information on which to base a decision to vote for any one of them rather than another.

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  • SuperTramp  |  November 16 2012, 9:25PM

    What worries me is the best candidate was Tony Hogg. But what really worries me is that he was a weak candidate who actually does not seem to know waht the job is about. Tony Hogg was the least bad candidate - that's about the only thing I can say in his favour. I do hope he can learn quickly, otherwise God help us!

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  • SuperTramp  |  November 16 2012, 9:17PM

    I turned out. I have been turning out since the election in 1964. (Anyone remember Harold Wilson?) Yes, I turned out - but I deliberately spoiled my ballot paper.

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  • Big_Ger  |  November 16 2012, 7:56PM

    We are not America, we do not want to vote for such posts.

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  • twain1  |  November 16 2012, 7:49PM

    Just as well only 15% voted else they'd be counting the votes until Christmas. Also, as the political parties could afford to promote their candidates and the independents couldn't, I suppose Cameron has ensured the commissioners are politicians.

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  • helsbells40  |  November 16 2012, 5:54PM

    Since my 15 year old received a voting card I have no confidence in the system regardless of its 'topic'

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  • Scrumpymonkey  |  November 16 2012, 4:54PM

    This position is another smoke and mirrors ploy. The individual will unfortunately be the figure head who is blamed when something goes wrong or performance figures are poor. They will be forced to resign saving the government and the local force a large sum of money in protracted internal investigations and legal fees. I feel sorry for whoever gets voted in today as it will be a thankless job with very little point to it, with the commissioner having no "real" influence on how policing is delivered in our region. Waste of time and taxpayers money and it with make no difference to the average person on the street. Devon and Cornwall Police have had a fantastic record right up until the point the budgets were slashed. Here's an idea, stop slashing public sector budgets and start getting some tax out of the enormous, greedy corporations.

    |   5
  • LonyTilly  |  November 16 2012, 2:37PM

    Well .... don't vote ... don't moan later. Turnout was poor but it was the same (15%) for a parliamentary by-election yesterday up north ?? I can't understand people going to polling stations to spoil papers. Its like going to the garage and not buying petrol. As for Tam Macpherson - who believes in a police force just for Kernow - even though he is in Plymouth over in England lol - his stance sums up the joke about RMs - speed of a race horse, strength of a shire horse and brains of a rocking horse." .

    |   -13
  • Restart  |  November 16 2012, 1:33PM

    A pointless election for a pointless post. Yet more public money being wasted on nothing. The low turnout shows the apathy of the electorate, & as such, this whole shambles should be made nul & void.

    |   13