Thomas Bridge 19 November 2012

PCCs announced as inquiry launched into low voter turnout

New police and crime commissioners (PCC) have been appointed across the country amid widespread low voter turnout.

Conservative Party candidates were voted into 16 of the PCC positions, with Labour taking 13 districts and independent candidates a further 12.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott was unsuccessful in his bid to become the PCC for Humberside, losing out to Conservative Matthew Grove.

With voter turnout reported to be as low as 13% in certain areas, the Electoral Commission has launched an inquiry into the organisation of the election and has criticised a number of the Government’s organisational decisions.

Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, said that the low turnout at the PCC election remains a concern ‘for everyone who cares about democracy’.

‘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. The Commission is going to undertake a thorough review, and we will present our findings to Parliament in early 2013,’ Watson said.

Voter turnout in the Essex PCC elections was reported to be 13.06%, with the Thurrock region in the district seeing 10.2% of residents casting votes.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has argued that this level of voter turnout should result in the adoption on alternative voting systems such as secure and independently-verified online, phone and workplace polling.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘Everyone wants a thriving democracy and better participation, but these low turnouts in the police elections should sound the death knell for the shrill Tory-led cries for thresholds for union ballots. We have consistently argued for reform of union ballots so instead of trying to score political points every time we have a vote, the government should talk to us about extending outdated postal voting to the use of modern technology.’

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