Friday, 6 May 2016

voting for a discredited experiment?

Aside from the well-discussed London mayor elections, there's been local council elections and police commissioner elections throughout many parts of the country.

I took a peek at the websites for the PCC candidates for one of the areas, ahead of the actual election day. Some say that the PCC mechanism is a discredited experiment. I decided to take a quick look. Of five candidates in my selected area, only three had any relevant content loaded. Even the incumbent PCC's content pointed to a Strategic Plan, which catastrophically failed to download (this was a week before the actual election).

Even by these limited actions I suspect I did more than many potential voters to attempt to find out what was happening. I screen grabbed the incomprehensible .NET error message and sent it to the then current PCC's email.

The next day I received a direct mail from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, which did send me some working links to the things I'd been seeking. Still, it was a 'round the houses' approach to getting something tangible.

The turnout for this PCC vote was much higher than last time's extremely paltry one (something like 15% now up to around 35%). When a single mid-term re-election was called in one area, the stand-alone voting actually dropped to a 10.6% turnout.

I originally thought of this role as a kind of 'jobs for the boys' (actually, last time it was 6 women and 35 men). Based upon my rather unscientific attempt to get further documents, the old criticism that there was too little information to make an informed decision still seems to hold.

Perhaps this stealth uplift is part of an increased politicisation of the roles?

I suspect people have gone out to vote for their councils and seen there is an extra PCC paper to complete. Scan the list of largely unknown names and use their favourite party name (Conservative, Labour etc.) as the only guide. With nothing else to go on, that's the way the votes have turned. Of course the individually elected commissioners have to say they are non-partisan.

We shall see.

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