UP TO 80% of Merseyside voters were predicted to shun today’s police commissioner election.
City polling officials have been told that the turnout could be as low as 20% to 25% in the race to become the region’s law and order chief.
The prediction was made based on the number of postal votes that had been returned.
Experts said they believed the fact that many voters may not believe in the principle of police and crime commissioners, and that the voting system was complex, could be factors. The winter weather could also play a part.
Some candidates have warned that a low turnout could “play into the hands of extremists”, but one encouraging sign is that in the days running up to the poll, the winner of which will be declared tomorrow morning at the Wavertree Tennis Centre, interest in the election has steadily increased, and it is ‘trending’ on social networking site twitter for the first time.
University of Liverpool academic Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, also of the election monitoring thinktank Democratic Audit, said: “The turnout is hard to predict, but people have been talking about the 20% to 25% figure because of the usual turnout in a council election (around 33%). The fact that it is a November election won’t help, and there’s still a possibility it could go lower than that.
“In local elections, you always get your hardcore of habitual voters, whereas I’ve spoken to people who normally vote who won’t be voting because they’ve had no information whatsoever from any of the candidates.”
Even regardless of turnout, there is a chance because the election won’t be decided by the normal first-past-the-post system but instead by supplementary vote, the actual number of recorded votes could be lower still.
Dr Wilks-Heeg added: “You could see a number of spoilt ballots, but also, supplementary ballots confuse people, and we know when you use other voting systems the turnout goes down.”