Thursday, November 15, 2012
Voting for police and crime commissioners got off to a slow start today, with reports of a quiet day at the polls.
Booths opened at 7am this morning and will stay open until 10pm for the election of the new PCCs, who will replace police authorities, set spending plans and have the power to “hire and fire” chief constables.
This morning one polling station in Norwich said that the voting had got off to a slow start and that about five people had voted per hour during the morning peak, while voters in Spixworth, Mulbarton and North Walsham also said polling stations were almost empty.
Fog shrouded the Norfolk coast at Hunstanton, where just a handful of people voted in the first hour that the polling station in the Town Hall was open.
A spokeswoman for the Police Area Returning Officer for Norfolk said they would not be commenting on turnout until the polls had closed.
However, a spokesman for the Suffolk Police Area Returning Officer said: “It appears that voting by mid-afternoon across the county’s 606 polling stations has been running at below the normal rate for local elections but above what has been predicted nationally, but what impact the November night will have on turn-out is as yet impossible to guess.”
Polling officer John Smith said that by 2.30pm Aldeby, near Beccles, had seen a turnout of 20 people, which was roughly six percent.
Mr Smith said that he had seen about three people an hour at the station at The Old Vicarage in Rectory Road.
“Aldeby is usually fairly quiet but I think it is quiet everywhere,” he said.
Despite a major nationwide media campaign to raise awareness there has seemingly been little public appetite for PCCs or the landmark elections taking place in 41 police force areas across England and Wales.
One forecast, based on an Ipsos MORI poll taken more than three weeks ago, suggests that only 15pc of the 40 million adults outside London eligible to vote are certain to do so.
The Suffolk count will held be at 8.30am tomorrow, while the Norfolk count takes place at 2pm in the afternoon.
The results will be on this website as soon as they are available, which is expected to be a few hours after each count begins.
The results will also be in Saturday’s paper, alongside analysis of what it will mean for each county.
The picture seemed to be only slightly more optimistic in Norfolk and Suffolk where, according to an EDP and Norwich Evening News poll of almost 140 people across the two counties, just 25pc of people surveyed were planning to vote and, perhaps more worryingly, just 3pc knew who their candidates were.
Under the Supplementary Vote system, voters put a cross for their first choice candidate in the left hand column.
They can then put a cross for their second choice candidate in the right hand column if they wish. As long as a cross is marked in the first choice column, their vote will count.
In Norfolk, people heading to the polls today have five candidates to choose from – Steve Morphew (Labour); Jamie Athill (Conservative); James Joyce (Lib Dems); Stephen Bett (Independent) and Matthew Smith (UKIP).
Meanwhile in Suffolk, voters have four possible candidates to choose from – Jane Basham (Labour); Tim Passmore (Conservative); David Cocks (Independent) and Bill Mountford (UKIP).
Elsewhere in the country, Labour’s most famous candidate, Lord John Prescott, will be looking to become Humberside’s first police and crime commissioner. The former Deputy prime minister is up against Godfrey Bloom (UKIP), Neil Eyre (Independent), Walter Sweeney (Independent), Simone Butterworth (Lib Dems), Matthew Grove (Conservative) and Paul Davison (Independent).