The race to become the public head of Lincolnshire’s police force is coming to a finish - with all the candidates critical about the way the ballot has been handled.
Voters will take to the polls tomorrow to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner. The winner will be tasked with holding the chief constable to account, setting out the county’s police priorities and overseeing the force budget.
There have been fears that the turn out for the election will be very low, with the Government opting not to fund a mailshot to all voters.
The vote will also be the first time Lincolnshire electors have used the Single Transferable Vote system, with people asked to pick a first and second choice candidate.
Candidates fear the role and voting system have not been properly explained.
David Bowles, standing for the Campaign to Stop Politicians Running Policing, said he is worried about the turnout, especially because he feels the commissioner will be potentially more important than an MP, making the ballot more important than the General Election.
He said: “As a country we used to pride ourselves on doing things well. I don’t think there can be any pride in the way these elections are being run.
“Many people don’t understand what’s going on and that’s not good for democracy.
“I think it’s the case that this post will probably have more impact on Lincolnshire than an individual MP will have. Therefore in that context a low turnout would be regrettable.”
Independent Alan Hardwick argues that the election is stacked against indepedents, with parties finding it easier to fill the gap left by a free mailshot.
He said he hopes the voting system will allow people to make their mind up for themselves - rather than feeling they have to select someone from their preferred party.
He said: “I credit people with far more sense. When given the opprtunity to choose in what’s going to be an historic election, they will make their own mind up and not be guided by a party.”
Conservative candidate Richard Davies has said that he considers the party locally to have a good record in standing up for the interests of the people first.
In a county dominated by his party, he is seen by many as the favourite to win tomorrow’s election. But that is not the way he is treating his campaign.
He told The Standard: “I wouldn’t say I consider myself a favourite. There’s no polling so it’s just a case of seeing how it goes.”
He too has been critical of the way the vote has been handled, especially in light of the fact voters rejected the similar Alternative Vote system in a referendum last year.
He said: “I was part of the ‘no’ campaign. We have kind have been duped a little bit but that’s the Liberal Democrats for you.
“We said we didn’t like AV or anything like it. With First Past the Post you know where you are.”
Labour’s Paul Gleeson also says it may be wrong to see Mr Davies as the favourite.
He said: “The truth is on the night, because there’s expected to be a very low turn out, it’s almost a lottery.
“If the Labour vote decides to go out and vote it could make all the difference.”
Mr Gleeson admitted his second preference choice will go to Alan Hardwick.
He revealed: “For that to count I would already be out of the competition. If I am not going to win I would rather he was elected. He will go out and listen to people.”
HOW DOES THE VOTE WORK:
*When you get your ballot paper, next to the list of candidates there will be two columns.
*You will be asked to choose your first choice with a cross in the first column and your second with a cross in the second.
*You do not have to mark a second choice. If you only choose a second choice your vote will not count.
*If you mark a cross next to the same candidate in the first and second choice column, your ballot paper will still be accepted but you would not be marking a second choice.
*If you put any other marks on the ballot paper other than the crosses for your first and second choice your vote will not count.
HOW ARE THE VOTES COUNTED
*The first choices are counted, and if a candidate has received more than 50 per cent of the votes cast they are elected.
*If no candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the vote, all candidates apart from those in the first and second place are eliminated.
*The ballot papers showing a first choice for the eliminated candidates are checked for their second preference.
*Any second choice votes for the two remaining candidates are then added to the candidates’ first preference votes and the candidate with the most votes wins.
Here’s a look at what the candidates’ election statements: