Low turnout for police commissioner election
ELECTION officials were left tapping their feet yesterday as voters stayed away from polling stations in droves.
Early reports indicated an extremely low turnout in the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Ten candidates were hoping to win the powerful job of controlling Devon and Cornwall Police – one of 41 constabularies in the country which will get an American-style Commissioner.
In Plymouth, one Mannamead polling station – normally a high turnout area – saw only about 80 voters by mid-afternoon.
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One resident, Jim Wilson, said: "I voted because I think it's my social responsibility."
Asked whether he thought the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner was a good move, he said: "It's hard to judge at the moment until we see how it pans out and what difference it makes.
"I am not against the idea as such. I think a lot of people are confused about how different this will make it."
Whoever wins today will take office next week.
Brian Blake, the Liberal Democrat candidate, said the turnout at his own Yealmpton polling station had been better than many.
"A lot of people didn't vote, mainly because they haven't had the information to vote on," he said.
The Government refused to pay for election leaflets as it does during a General Election campaign, and voters have had to rely on newspapers and the internet.
"Several people I have spoken to are not on the internet," Mr Blake said.
Independent candidate William Morris said he had been told in parts of West Cornwall the turnout by evening was only four per cent.
"That means the postal votes, which were about 15 per cent, have it," he said.
Ivan Jordan, another of the six independent candidates, said he had seen a late rush of support on social media which made him optimistic of doing well.
The main count for Devon and Cornwall will be at Carn Brea Leisure Centre, near Camborne, starting at 11am today.
Because the election is based on a second-preference system, ballot papers will almost certainly have to be counted twice – unless one candidate wins more than 50 per cent in the in first round.
Cornwall Council, which is running the count, said the result was expected some time around 8pm tonight.