Today is the day! Do not forget to vote. Remember those who are as we write this, giving their lives in a war to preserve their right to vote. We are very lucky to take for granted rights that others are denied.
Somerset has attracted a lot of media attention because of the historic strength of LibDems in the county. Our election is being seen as a bell weather for how the Conservative vote is holding up. But both Greens and Labour are hoping for a good showing too.
In the last election in 2017 for 55 seats, the Conservatives won with the following numbers of councillors elected:
- Conservative 35;
- Liberal Democrat 12;
- Independent 3;
- Labour 3;
- Green Party 2
This time their are 110 seats up for grabs as voters have their say on Somerset’s first unitary council. It is not a small election either. Some 434,672 people are eligible to vote for the new Somerset Council and 80,923 postal votes have been issued already.
Don’t forget this is not just an election for the Unitary Council. Every parish and town has an election too. At least they do if enough candidates put their names forward. They need your votes too.
Your polling card will tell you which of the 477 polling stations you should go to in order to vote. The Polling stations will be open until 10pm today. So you have plenty of time to cast your vote!
Remember that for this election, whoever you vote in will be a councillor for 5 years instead of the usual 4.
What happens next? After the Polling Stations ballot boxes will be sealed and sent to one of the four district counting centres. Verification of votes will start as soon as ballot boxes start arriving. It is anticipated that this will take until 03.30 hrs on Friday, 6 May.
Counting proper will start at 10am on Friday. The expectation is that the full results for the Unitary Council will be known by 4pm on Friday.
I wholeheartedly agree that we should not take the right to vote for granted. However, there are times when voters don’t think any of the candidates are worthy of a vote – usually because of their party affiliation. At those times you can either not show up, spoil your paper or vote for the “least worst” option. The problem is, none of those is an accurate representation of that particular voter’s views.
I would like to see a “none of the above” option placed on the ballot paper at every election. This would provide politicians with a clear indication of the number of people who are seriously engaged with the democratic process but for whatever reason feel disengaged from the main parties.
It is not such a bad idea. Though I’m not sure what we would do if “none of the above” ended up with a large majority? In the meantime, as you note, for those who don’t want to vote for a person/party on the ballot paper, there is always the option to spoil your vote. At least be bothered to turn up and make your view known. Spoiling a ballot paper is a legitimate way to do that.
The problem with spoiling your ballot paper is statistically it just gets lumped in with those where voters haven’t filled out the form correctly or other spurious reasons. Writing a message is pointless too as it’s only read by the person who happens to count that particular paper. The idea of a “none of the above” box is that it sends a clear message that the voter has considered the options and found them all wanting.
If “none of the above” ended up with a large majority it would send a very clear message that there is space in the political landscape for others to break the stranglehold of the main parties. That would be no bad thing in my opinion.