It was a lesson in how not to run an election. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in November 2012 gave us the lowest turnout of any election in British peacetime history (15.1%).
The stated purpose of electing the Police and Crime Commissioners was to give people a say over how our streets are policed.
Less than 1 in 5 members of the public chose to take up this opportunity.
From the start the PCC elections were marred by controversy, with the government shirking its responsibility to provide voters with even the most basic information that the elections were taking place.
What we did
We exposed the avoidable mistakes that gave us the lowest turnout in peacetime history.
These elections were an accident waiting to happen. We pressed the government to change tack when there was still time - but they chose to ignore us, and the thousands of our supporters who put pressure on the Home Office. Once it was too late we kept this debate at the top of agenda so that those responsible could be held to account.
Evidence has shown that nearly 90% of Britons have no idea who their elected police and crime commissioner is.
Government mismanagement has handed our elected Commissioners a poisoned chalice, and it remains unclear how they can overcome it.
This vote failed both candidates and voters alike. There are key lessons to be learnt which we want to see implemented for the next PCC election - and for any new post:
- Never hold another election in the winter months which discourages people from turning out
- Never leave voters in the dark about who or what they are voting for – ensure information on candidates is provided in mailings to voters.
- Ensure a level playing field for candidates through well-designed election rules.
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