POLITICS

Local Elections 2012: Low Turnout Feared

03/05/2012 17:00

Political parties have been campaigning to get their vote out up to the last minute amid concerns of low turnout across polling stations.

The council elections are being held in their own right this year instead of the same time as the parliamentary election, leading to fears that voters might stay away.

The decision followed the 2007 election fiasco which saw around 100,000 spoilt ballots. The problems were blamed on a confusing array of voting systems, coupled with the use of electronic counting.

Parties remained confident, however, that fine weather will help draw people out to cast their vote, filling 1,223 council seats across all 32 councils.

Scotland's four million voters have until 10pm to have their say, although as many as 550,000 people could have already voted by post.

SNP campaign director Derek Mackay, who is also the Scottish Government's Local Government Minister, said: "We've fought a good, positive election campaign and we are confident that we have achieved our objective of becoming the largest party in local government across Scotland.

"Given that this is the first time in almost 20 years that council elections have been held as a stand-alone poll, almost all of us are in uncharted territory in terms of turnout.

"But our activists are out in huge numbers speaking to voters today and aided by the good weather, our vote appears to be coming out in force all over the country.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "Turnout seems quite low but we are working hard to get all Conservatives to go to the polls.

"The party is fighting every mainland ward for the first time and we have been encouraged by the response from our own supporters.

"We are in good heart and hoping for a good result when the votes are counted tomorrow."

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "There is great campaigning weather across the country and we hope this will help drive up turnout. Labour has 500 candidates and thousands of activists across the country fighting to elect Labour councils which will put jobs and local services first."

A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "Our candidates will be getting the vote out right up until close of poll. At a time when councils are being asked to do more with less, to deliver the services we all rely upon despite tough times, we need councillors who will be local champions, not cheerleaders for independence."

A Green party spokesman said: "Turnout at polling stations today appears to be slow but the weather's fine, polls are open till 10pm and with the transferable voting system, every Green vote counts.

"We're looking forward to the counts getting under way tomorrow."

Political leaders were among the first to cast their votes when polling stations opened at 7am.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was campaigning in Glasgow's southside, having already voted by post, while Conservative leader Ruth Davidson visited the ballot box in the west end.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon was in Uddingston, on the edge of Glasgow, to cast her vote and Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie visited a polling station in Dunfermline.

Edinburgh City Council reported turnout being "quieter than expected" but hoped numbers would increase in the evening. Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council said it was too early to give an indication of turnout.

Counting of the votes is taking place tomorrow, instead of overnight as is traditional. The electronic technology is necessary because of the single transferable vote (STV) system of proportional representation used to elect councillors.
Across Scotland a total of 2,490 people are standing for election and under STV, voters number the candidates in order of preference.

People in the Govan ward in Glasgow have 14 candidates to choose from, the highest of any ward in the country.
Voters in Dunoon will not go to the polls until next Thursday, May 10, because the election there was postponed due to the death of a candidate.

05/05/2012 00:34 BST

41-hours after polls opened Boris is mayor and we can all go to bed

So over 41 hours after polls opened on Thursday morning, Boris Johnson is mayor of London and we can all go to bed to dream analytical dreams about what the results mean for the country.

04/05/2012 22:45 BST

London Elects: 'Several Hundred' votes to be manually checked

Probable ETA of a declaration is about an hour, hopefully less (please)

04/05/2012 22:44 BST

Statement on the count delays from London Elects...

London Elects statement:

We have results in from 13 of the 14 constituencies in the Mayor of London and London Assembly election.

The final constituency is Brent & Harrow. The Greater London Returning Officer has been in touch with the CRO for Brent & Harrow to establish the reason for a delay.

All batches of ballot papers were registered and scanned. Two batches went to storage without some ballot papers being manually entered as required. Manual entry is required when a scanner cannot read a ballot paper – for example if a ballot paper is damaged. It is not an issue with the scanners.

The issue was identified during the verification stage. These two batches are being re-processed. To make this happen as quickly as possible we have separated out into several smaller batches. This is why the progress screens appear to show a changing number of verified ballot papers.

We will declare as soon as possible but it is obviously important that every vote is counted.

04/05/2012 22:29 BST

What's happening at City Hall?

Well we don't entirely know. The latest is that at least two ballot boxes were found unscanned at the Brent count, and they're now being counted by hand, for some reason.

There are rumours that Ken's team has asked for a full recount in Brent, which would delay things for another few hours.

London elects thinks it'll be only another 20 mins, but they've been saying that for nearly two hours.

04/05/2012 19:44 BST

YouGov are calling it for Boris..

@ tnewtondunn :

The Sun's pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov calls it - "Boris has won. He has too big a lead for Ken to overturn".

04/05/2012 18:24 BST

Ken-supporting constituencies now coming in...

It's leading to a sharp narrowing in the polls between the two candidates. On 1st preference votes Boris now has 44% and Ken 40% - 8 out of 14 constituencies have now declared.

04/05/2012 17:07 BST

London Mayoral Vote Getting Tight...

Here's the latest.

london shocker

People are talking about 50/50 odds between Ken and Boris. The atmosphere at City Hall has changed dramatically in the past half hour.

04/05/2012 16:40 BST

Ed Miliband: We're coming back

Ed Miliband, speaking in Southampton, has declared that Labour is "coming back".

This comes after Labour took control of Southampton from the Conservatives.

He railed against the "out of touch government in Westminster".

"David Cameron promised change, not for the better but for the worse. Today in Southampton, it is a rejection of the economic failure of this government, and the unfairness of this government". he added

He also boasted that Labour is "beating back" the SNP in Scotland.

He recognised the low turnouts, saying it showed there was "still more to do".

04/05/2012 16:35 BST

Peter Bone MP - 'This is the beginning of the end of the coalition'

Conservative MP Peter Bone has said that the PM has 'one hand tied behind his back'.

"Worst of all, we've got the Liberals holding us back" he added

The results signified the "beginning of the end of the coalition", he told the BBC.

"We're seeing Boris winning as a Conservative in London, yet the Coalition losing against Labour. So the message must be let's come out of this coalition as soon as possible." he said

04/05/2012 16:25 BST

Liam Byrne optimistic despite Birmingham no vote

Liam Byrne, who quit the Shadow Cabinet in preparation for running for Birmingham Mayor, has just tweeted this

@ LiamByrneMP :

A huge thanks to ALL who supported Yes2Mayor, Albert and me: our job now is to get 4-square behind our brilliant new Lbr council #brummayor

Also here is a round-up from HuffPost of Tory dissent following the local elections drubbing. A few themes emerge. Many Tories think House of Lords reform is a distraction - a couple but don't like gay marriage, but the overwhelming narrative is there needs to be a growth strategy.

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