maxwells_daemon: (Kzin)
[personal profile] maxwells_daemon
I enjoy elections and think it is important to vote. So much so, I vote in two different countries where I am eligible to vote.

But I don't agree with today's PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) elections. I think criminal justice is the one of the worst things to make directly elected (just look at elected prosecutors and judges in the US). So, I've been wondering what to do. Many people have suggested not voting or (better) deliberately spoiling their ballot as a protest. On the other hand one of the candidates does seem better qualified than the rest, so it would be a pity not to register my opinion. [*]

In the end, I went and marked "scrap PCC" (ie. spoilt) as my first choice and my preferred candidate (Tim Starkey, Labour) as second choice. I don't know whether that will be counted the way I want, but it's the best I can do. (They could discard the whole ballot as spoilt, or count my second choice as a first choice.)

The polling station was empty (apart from the tellers, one of whom was off making tea) when I went in at 5pm, so I guess most people are not voting. I told the teller that I was sorry that they had to be there, but he said he enjoyed elections. Even more than me, it seems!

* Also, The Economist argues "If turnout in next week’s elections is really low, England and Wales (Scotland is sensibly sticking with police authorities) could end up with mighty figures who feel untrammelled by public scrutiny."

Date: 2012-11-15 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I voted - I suspect that at 4pm voting in my part of Woodstock was still in single figures. We have the same preferred candidate, but spoiling my ballot did not occur to me.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Do you mean that spoiling the ballot is something you would never do, or is it something you might have done in this or another case?

Date: 2012-11-16 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not sure whether I would ever spoil a ballot, truthfully; but I can't rule it out. It never occured to me as an option, though.

Date: 2012-11-15 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think spoiling part of the ballot will kill the whole thing.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh well, that will send one of the messages I wanted to send, so fair enough.

Date: 2012-11-15 08:57 pm (UTC)
ext_901: (Tree with bark (RJ Wilson))
From: [identity profile]
I wasn't sure what to do, either. In the end I voted for the people I wanted, but for the first time ever was tempted to spoil my ballot.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, my first time too. Previous times we got to vote on whether we wanted the vote (directly elected mayors, AV), even if the vote didn't always go as I'd have liked (AV, sigh).

Date: 2012-11-15 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I thought it was next week!

Date: 2012-11-16 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope you got to vote (or deliberately not vote) in time.

Date: 2012-11-16 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I only had to walk to the Community Centre over the road and by 9:30 the crowds had died down.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's a good thing there weren't queues like in Florida

Date: 2012-11-16 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Tricky, as if (like me) you think its pointless, spoiling a ballot dilutes the media message of low turnouts. And with 15% turnouts, your vote has a 6* leverage the wrong way.

I guess it depends whether any analysis is done counting or reading spoilt ballots. I doubt your objection will reach Teresa May, but then what would.

Date: 2012-11-16 07:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A nice pair of Italian heels?

Date: 2012-11-16 12:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sadly, BBC news reports are lumping spoilt ballots into the turnout

"Turnout was 12.9% in Merseyside, 13.3% in Thames Valley, and 13.5% in Greater Manchester. These figures include spoilt ballot papers."

Date: 2012-11-16 01:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I guess they can't tell until the results are counted. The BBC results page says "Turnout does not include spoilt ballot papers". But they should count spoilt ballots separately.

Date: 2012-11-16 08:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I voted at least in part to keep out the loony right wingers - we have a candidate from something like the English Patriotic Democrats for Real Justice and More Police (I didn't check to make sure my memory is correct, but it's something like that) whose main policy apart from reversing the government cuts (how?) seems to be to fly the cross of St George over every police station. But I wouldn't have known this if I hadn't checked out the website listing candidates, as there has been virtually no coverage in the local paper.

Date: 2012-11-16 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think you might have guessed from the party name. It's the right wing loonies with the inoffensive names we need to fear. In my naive youth I used to think pro-life parties were just liberals against capital punishment and bloody foreign wars.

Date: 2012-11-16 09:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A lot of people seem to have trouble with the idea of voting for a police commissioner so I am clearly failing to understand something as it seems to me like a good thing. I think we are not voting for the chief of police or even a chief prosecutor we are voting for someone whose job is to make sure the police are more accountable to the people and that they concentrate on enforcing those parts of the law that matter to people rather than to the government. This seems like a wholly good thing and the guy I voted for (I suspect your choice as he was clearly the best qualified) will do that. The role is clearly not yet well defined as it is new but if we elect commissioners with some idea of what they want to do this will come. Unlike me to be the idealistic voice.
On the issue of spoiling ballot papers I am generally opposed. Generally the figures quoted to support legitimacy are for turnout. Since if you spoil your ballot you are counted as part of the turnout but your vote doesn't affect the outcome it seems counterproductive.

Date: 2012-11-16 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The problem is with having to vote at all. We elect people at local, national and international level to handle these issues on out behalf, who, hopefully, are far better informed than us. If the election really cost £100m that's the scandal.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I am less worried about cost (which sounds scandalous, but I don't know how much the existing system costs) and more about priorities set on short-term or hot-button issues. Central government political control is bad enough, but is more diluted.

Date: 2012-11-16 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The function of police commissioner is linked to police force and in England this doesn't directly relate to any regional (or international) government so I suppose the role would devolve to the Home Secretary (or possibly the Justice minister). Home secretaries generally seem to be worried about rather different things to the issues that affect me and so I welcome the chance to direct the police more to what concerns me . The role may make the police no more accountable or concerned with the issues that concern me and it may not be worth the costs of the election and the commissioners elected but I would have said it is too soon to say. The issue is not whether others are better informed but whether they have the same concerns.

Date: 2012-11-16 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Of course in London we didn't have the election, as the view was that we elect a Mayor who chooses the Chief Constables, as the Met Police region maps to Boris's electorate.

So not only do we have different rules in different countries in the UK, but different rules within England. Bristol gets a Mayor, but he can't control the Avon Police Constable.

Like the council elections, were London votes much less frequently than the rest of the UK, its a mess.
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