Local Elections 2012: Low Turnout Feared

PA/The Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 03/05/2012 17:00 Updated: 03/05/2012 17:04

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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

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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

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@ SmithTonyD : Brum result: Leader 120,611, Mayor 88,085. 57.8 Per cent "no" #BrumVote12

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@ oflynnexpress : Brum votes No to a Mayor. Has anyone noticed people like voting No in refs? No2EU

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With 56 of 79 seats declared, Labour currently lead over the SNP by 29 to 20.

Barring a major upset, Labour will resist the SNP advance in Glasgow.

@ suemacmillan : Labour holding its majority in Glasgow is a whopper of a result. Well done @scottishlabour

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@ JenWilliamsMEN : Ian Stewart is mayor of Salford.

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@ baddogOTM : Labour win CHIPPING NORTON! David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, Elisabeth Murdoch, Steve Hilton + Jeremy Clarkson now have a LABOUR council.

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With 166 of 181 councils declared, Labour have gained more than 700 council seats.

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Former Libdem leader Paddy Ashdown has said the Liberal Democrats should "keep on doing" what it is doing.

Speaking to the BBC, Lord Ashdown said the party's mettle has been "tested" by the results.

"The party's mettle has been tested, it has been tested before. We should keep on doing what we're doing" he said

"It doesn't look as bad in terms of hanging onto our seats that we have got as it might have been." he added.

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According to the Guardian, Ken Livingstone's team are privately conceding defeat.

They reportedly also think Boris Johnson will increase his majority.

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A council candidate dressed as a penguin called Professor Pongoo has received more votes than the Liberal Democrats in Edinburgh.

Professor Pongoo (real name Mike Ferrigan) was an independent candidate who had pledged to wear the penguin outfit to every council meeting if he was elected.

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From the votes counted so far, Labour are on 44%, Conservatives are on 33% and the Greens are on 8%.

The LibDems dwell at 7% while Ukip are on 5%.

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Harman castigated Watson for his "hold your nose and vote for Ken" comment - and was a bit hesitant to agree that Ken had been the right candidate in the first place...we thought.

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Clearly annoyed, Farage has arrived at City Hall and says that the ballot paper fail was UKIP's fault, not London Elects. But he's blaming it on UKIP's poor performance. They're currently trailing in 6th place behind Siobhan Benita

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage is reportedly furious that his party's candidate for Mayor of London, Lawrence Webb, was listed on the ballot paper as Fresh Choice for London.

webb

He says it was a 'cockup which undoubtedly cost UKIP votes' and could have helped Boris Johnson's bid for four more years at City Hall.

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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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In an update to previous news about the BNP's difficulties, it has emerged that the party has lost every single one of the 12 seats it has been defending.

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@ Kevin_Maguire : Looks like Labour will win London but lose the Mayoralty, getting most votes/seats in the Assembly but Blue Boris beats Red Ken

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@ StewartHosieMP : 16 out of 16 #SNP win outright control of Dundee

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Loading Slideshow...
  • London Mayoral Election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave the polling station at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • Local council elections

    SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon casts her vote at Broomhouse Halls polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at Berryknowe Resource Centre polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    SNP Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon arrives to cast her vote at Broomhouse Halls polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    A voter arrives at Berryknowe Resource Centre polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont (left) and local candidate Alistair Watson (right) at Berryknowe Resource Centre polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave the polling station at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma arrive at their local polling station in north London with their son Tom, to cast their votes in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrive at the polling station in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, before voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma leave their local polling station in north London with their dog Coco and children Mia and Tom after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave the polling station at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma leave their local polling station in north London with their dog Coco after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma leave their local polling station in north London after voting in mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha leave the polling station at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma leave their local polling station in north London after voting in mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Ken Livingstone and his wife Emma leave their local polling station in north London after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine arrive at their local polling station in north London to vote in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine leave their local polling station in north London after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Labour leader Ed Miliband and wife Justine arrive at their local polling station in Highgate, north London, to vote in the elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Labour leader Ed Miliband and wife Justine arrive at their local polling station in Highgate, north London, to vote in the elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

  • Local council elections

    Ballot boxes are sent out to polling stations around Edinburgh from the council headquarters ahead of the local elections tomorrow.

  • Local council elections

    A voter arrives to cast a vote at Broomhouse Halls polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    A voter arrives to cast a vote at Broomhouse Halls polling station in Glasgow, as Scots go to the polls today to elect their local councillors.

  • Local council elections

    Ballot boxes are sent out to polling stations around Edinburgh from the council headquarters ahead of the local elections tomorrow.

  • Local council elections

    Ballot boxes are sent out to polling stations around Edinburgh from the council headquarters ahead of the local elections tomorrow.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Boris Johnson and his wife Marina Wheeler leave their local polling station in London after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Boris Johnson and his wife Marina Wheeler arrive at their local polling station in London to vote in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Boris Johnson and his wife Marina Wheeler leave their local polling station in London after voting in the mayoral and council elections.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg arrives to cast his vote in the local elections at the Park Hill community centre in his constituency in Stannington in Sheffield.

  • London Mayoral Election

    Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg arrives to cast his vote in the local elections at the Park Hill community centre in his constituency in Stannington in Sheffield.

  • A man watches the vote count status on s

    A man watches the vote count status on screens inside City Hall in London as results are tallied in the London Mayoral and local elections on May 4, 2012. Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party took a bashing Friday in mid-term local elections, capping a bad month for the government after Britain slid back into recession. However, early vote indications showed Conservative Boris Johnson may hold on to the mayor's job in London in the year of the 2012 Olympics. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Two men watch the vote count status on s

    Two men watch the vote count status on screens inside City Hall as results are tallied in the London Mayoral and local elections on May 4, 2012. Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party took a bashing Friday in mid-term local elections, capping a bad month for the government after Britain slid back into recession. However, early vote indications showed Conservative Boris Johnson may hold on to the mayor's job in London in the year of the 2012 Olympics. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Local council elections

    Labour leader Ed Miliband in Victoria Square, Birmingham, after Labour made significant gains in the mid-term local elections.

  • Local council elections

    Labour leader Ed Miliband in Victoria Square, Birmingham, after Labour made significant gains in the mid-term local elections.

  • Local council elections

    Labour leader Ed Miliband congratulates Labour Group leader Sir Albert Bore (right) in Victoria Square, Birmingham, after Labour made significant gains in the mid-term local elections.

  • Local council elections

    Edinburgh City Council votes are counted at the Meadowbank stadium, Edinburgh.

  • Local council elections

    Edinburgh City Council votes are counted at the Meadowbank stadium, Edinburgh.

  • Local council elections

    (From left to right) First Minister Carwyn Jones, Cardiff Council leader Heather Joyce and Shadow Wales Secretary Peter Hain celebrate the party's local government election win in the Welsh capital in Queen Street, Cardiff.

  • Local council elections

    Respect Party leader George Galloway at the party's Bradford HQ after they won five seats on the Bradford Council, including that of the Labour leader.

  • Local council elections

    Respect Party leader George Galloway with supporters at the party's Bradford HQ after they won five seats on the Bradford Council, including that of the Labour leader.

  • Local council elections

    Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont (right), MP Margaret Curran (left) and Labour leader Gordon Matheson at the SECC in Glasgow, as votes are counted in the Glasgow City Council elections.

  • Local council elections

    Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont (left) and Labour leader Gordon Matheson at the SECC in Glasgow as votes are counted in the Glasgow City Council elections.

  • Local council elections

    Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont at the SECC in Glasgow as votes are counted in the Glasgow City Council elections.

  • Local council elections

    SNP Leader Allison Hunter (left) and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (right) at the SECC in Glasgow as votes are counted in the Glasgow City Council elections.

  • Local council elections

    Leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson (left) with David Meikle at the SECC in Glasgow as votes are counted in the Glasgow City Council elections.

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