It came down to a penalty shoot out between Labour and Conservative in the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the Tory just about grabbed it on the 2nd preference votes. Five candidates contested the election and votes were counted by district and then all added together to get a single result for the whole Avon and Somerset region. After the first round the top 2 contenders faced each other in a final and the 2nd preference votes of the losing 3 parties were redistributed in this classic example of SV (Supplementary vote) Proportional representation. In round 1 the Tories came top with 136,988 votes and Labour second with 93,495. That meant the 164,008 people who hadn’t chosen either of the winners could have a second crack at it. In the second round Labour picked up a further 52,790 votes but the Tories gained another 24,331 keeping them at the top and their candidate Mark Shelford winning the election.
Mark Shelford (Conservative) 136,988
Kerry Barker (Labour) 93,495
Cleo Lake (Green) 64,790
Heather Shearer (Lib Dem) 52,839
John Smith (Independent) 46,379
Mark Shelford (Conservative) 161,319
Kerry Barker (Labour) 146,293
District by District
The result varied across the region with the Tories coming first everywhere except Bristol where Labour came first. Labour won in Bristol itself but with a strong second place from the Greens, and came second in Sedgemoor, Bath and South Gloucestershire. But it was the transfer of votes in this AV election that was key. Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour, Bridgwater Westover) was at the Sedgemoor count and says “Turnout was appalling and in fact Sedgemoor was the worse. 19% of people could be bothered to turn out and in some places that was down to 4%. So it was down to the people who made the effort and in a PR system your second choice was as important as your first. From watching the votes it seems like most Greens second voted Labour and most Independents and Lib Dems second voted Tory. If just another 10% of people had turned out the result could have been quite different. We could have had a Police and Crime Commissioner dedicated to joined up thinking in the Police service, stopping the closures of local police stations and a return to visible community policing with restored support services. As it stands we have a Tory who’s apparently ‘looking forward to working with Priti Patel’. That’s what could have been avoided…..”
Spoilt Ballots – Design or daftness?
Cllr Smedley added “One of the most interesting things about election counts is reading what’s on the spoilt ballot papers. Some people use the opportunity to write something abusive -‘gert waste of money’ or ‘they’m all useless’ etc. In one case one paper which wrote an abusive word next to the candidate they presumably hated most ended up having this counted as a vote FOR them. But most common was people simply not knowing how to use the ballot paper. In this case 6,000 ballot papers were rejected. The overwhelming reason was ‘voting for more than one candidate’. With SV of course you can vote for 2..but you have to put the 2nd cross in the second box…and most of the rejected ballots i saw people simply put both crosses in the first box..therefore invalidating the vote.”
Understanding SV (Supplementary vote) click here.