PCC Election: Dismal Turnout To Be Investigated By Electoral Commission

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An in-depth investigation into dire voter turnout at the polls for police and crime commissioners is being launched by an elections watchdog.

The Electoral Commission said the Government had taken a series of decisions about how to run the vote to elect the first PCCs in England and Wales that it did not agree with.

It said the dismal number of votes cast was a "concern for everyone who cares about democracy" and plans to report the findings of its review to Parliament early next year.

As results continued to come in from the 41 counts, fears of exceptionally poor turnout were confirmed with one polling station in Newport reported to have had no voters pass through it at all.

pcc elections

The elections have seen poor turnouts across the country

Jenny Watson, who chairs the Electoral Commission, said: "The low turnout at the police and crime commissioner elections is a concern for everyone who cares about democracy.

"These were new elections taking place at an unfamiliar time of year, which is why we have made clear at every stage that it would be important to engage effectively with voters.

"The Government took a number of decisions about how to run these elections that we did not agree with. But what is important now is that the right lessons are learnt: we will talk to voters, candidates and returning officers to understand what worked and what didn't.

"The commission is going to undertake a thorough review, and we will present our findings to Parliament in early 2013."

In the West Midlands just 11.96% of the 1,993,998 voters turned out while Merseyside, Thames Valley and Essex all hovered on around 12%.

lord prescott pcc

Lord Prescott, a former deputy prime minister, is standing in Humberside, where there's a been a relatively high turnout

Among the highest turnouts was Humberside, where Lord Prescott's name on the ballot paper raised the profile of the election, on 19.48% and Bedfordshire on 17.75%.

The previous record low in a national poll in peacetime was 23% for the 1999 European elections.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused the Government of ignoring warnings of a low turnout and said the elections had been "a complete shambles".

But Conservative co-chairman Grant Shapps insisted the new commissioners will have "much more credibility and legitimacy" than the chairmen of the police authorities they are replacing.

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