Sunday, 4 November 2012

Who will win Kent Police Commissoner election?

Recently I received a document setting out the voting procedure for the Kent Police Commissioner election. I may place a cross  in one column against the name of my first choice and then, if I wish, a cross in the second column against the name of my second choice.

How are the votes counted?  The Electoral Commission states as follows:

The first preferences are counted, and if a candidate has received more than 50% of the votes cast they are elected.
If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, all candidates apart from those in the first and second place are eliminated.
The ballot papers showing a first preference for the eliminated candidates are checked for their second preference. Any second preference votes for the two remaining candidates are then added to the candidates’ first preference votes and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Unless a candidate receives more than 50% and wins, it is imperative that a candidate comes either first or second in the first round to have any chance of winning.

Whilst I believe the Conservative candidate will top the first preference count he may not secure more than 50% of the vote. But who will come second?  A local newspaper has suggested UKIP may spring a surprise. Either UKIP or the Independent (Ann Barnes) could come second, with Labour fourth followed by the English Democrat and the other Independent.  What will be the effect of second preference votes?  In the absence of a Liberal Democrat candidate how will that party's supporters cast their first and second preference votes?  Indeed, how many people will bother to cast a second preference vote?

It could well be that the leader after the first preference round will fail to hold on to the position  after second preference votes have been added.

Should a voter place crosses against the names of the candidates who come first and second in the first round his/her second vote is ignored.  Only the second preference votes of eliminated candidates are considered.  Therefore some second preference votes carry more weight than others, which is inequitable.  All second preference votes should be counted for all of the candidates.  Who thought up this voting system?

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