5:10am Friday 16th November 2012
By Joanna Morris
POLLING STATIONS were left sparsely populated as confusion reigned supreme over the Police and Crime Commissioner elections yesterday.
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The Electoral Reform Society had previously predicted the election would attract the lowest ever turnout during peacetime, with estimations of national turnout standing at 18.5 per cent last night.
The mood of the region on polling day seemed to reflect this belief.
Straw polls conducted by The Northern Echo revealed a largely negative response to the elections, with many voters saying an overall lack of information had marred the election process.
Despite the post of Police and Crime Commissioner being non-political, voting appeared to be largely along party lines, with many voters interviewed unable to name the candidate they had chosen.
Turnout across the region appeared to be slow throughout the day. By 1pm, many polling stations in York had reported single-figure turnouts.
A spokeswoman for Hambleton and Richmondshire District Council said: “Generally speaking, it’s very quiet.
It’s been very slow across the district.”
In Teesside, three out of six polling stations visited were empty. By mid-morning, only 15 people had voted at the Central library in Thornaby, near Stockton.
Pat McKie, of Thornaby, said: “I voted for Labour because that’s who I always vote for.
“I don’t really know who the candidate is and we did not have enough information through the door about policies.
I don’t think I have been able to give a fair vote.”
Polling stations across north Durham reported a “trickle” of voters , with the number of postal ballots also down on previous years.
At one polling station in Darlington, there were about 45 voters between 7am and 2.20pm.
Darlington resident Susan Boyle, 63, said: “I don’t think there will be a big turnout. It probably is a waste of money.
To me, the candidate’s political party is irrelevant – it should be about what they want to get done.”
Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, called the election “a comedy of errors”.
She added: “Polling stations are standing empty because voters knew next to nothing about the role, let alone the candidates they were expected to pick from “There have been avoidable errors at every step, and those responsible should be held to account.”
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