The Western Mail reports on the verdict of Dr Timothy Brain, of the Cardiff-based Universities’ Police Science Institute, and former Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, that turnout for this week’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales could be lower than 10%.
Dr. Brain said turnout on Thursday should be judged against that for standalone council elections, when there are no general or assembly elections happening at the same time:
“Normally in a local authority election you would expect to get around 30-35% and anything less I would say is a failure in terms of giving people an active vote,” he said.
“If they get 30-35% the Government will be very happy with that. But the way people are talking there is every possibility it could be a very, very low turnout and I think the Government needs to take a lot of the blame for that because they didn’t allow candidates to do mailshots or posters.
“This is an extraordinarily low profile election. Today I have been driving between Wolverhampton and Dudley and if this was even a local election there would be billboards and posters out encouraging you to vote for a local party and local candidate. This kind of campaigning is completely absent in this election.
“The fact it is happening in November is also a problem as it’s not a time of year to hold an unusual election.
“I have heard people who have a kind of active apathy, if you can have that oxymoron. People are saying they are irritated by others trying to make them vote and they don’t think this is something they should be voting on, so they are deliberately abstaining. These are people actively saying, ‘we are not going to vote’.”
If turnout is as low as has been warned, he said elected commissioners should be wary of claiming a their democratic mandate too strongly.”