Historic mayor vote 'could change political map' in Bristol
BRISTOL’S political map might dramatically change today if people decide in favour an elected mayor – but only one in three voters were expected to have voted.
Rainy weather and the absence of local elections conspired to produce a low turnout at the citywide referendum.
At Kingsdown Sports Centre yesterday which was used as one of seven polling stations in Cabot ward, only 28 voters turned up during a one-hour mid-morning period.
But voting is usually slow during the mornings on polling day and traditionally there is a surge in the evening as people take time out to vote on their way home from work and after their evening meal.
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Only a total of 113 voters had turned out by midday which represents about 5.5 per cent of the electorate in the ward.
If this figure is extrapolated across the ward, then the turnout would be about 38 per cent – just over one in three voters. At the last local elections in Bristol in 2011, the turnout in Cabot ward was 34 per cent and citywide, 41 per cent. The turnout at the last mayoral elections in London in 2008 was 44 per cent.
Publisher Matt Nicholson, 58, who voted no, said: “I’m just happy with the way things are run at the moment.”
Another no voter was Brian Rodbourn, a retired insurance office manager who said: “I’m not happy about this at all. I just don’t think we were given enough information about the powers that an elected mayor would have.”
Yes campaigners have argued that an elected mayor would give more power to one person who was directly responsible to voters instead of a council leader who was chosen by a small group of councillors.
Voting ended at 10pm last night and the ballot boxes from all over the city were taken to Ashton Gate for today’s count which was starting at 10am.
First, the voting papers were being verified before the count in earnest could start. Postal votes have already been verified and only need counting. The council has received more than 24,000 postal votes which represents nearly 60 per cent of the postal vote turnout.
Postal votes were requested by about 12 per cent of the 320,000 voters in the city. The result was expected sometime this afternoon.
Council staff had to break into a polling station in Dundridge Road, St George, yesterday because they had the wrong keys. But the temporary cabin was open and ready for voters before the official start time of 7am.
Mayoral referendums were held in ten cities including Bristol. The others were: Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
If Bristol’s referendum decides in favour of an elected mayor, elections will be held on November 15.