Who'll be mayor? Voting system means result is unpredictable
A DIFFERENT voting system to decide Bristol's elected mayor means the result is completely unpredictable.
Labour's Marvin Rees is the favourite to win the race to become the city's first figurehead.
But instead of using the first-past-the-post system as in local and general elections, voters will be able to put two X's on their ballot paper – a first and second choice.
Mr Rees is unlikely to win in the first round which means the second preference votes come into play – making it almost impossible to predict the winner.
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Under the Supplementary Vote (SV), there are two columns on the ballot paper.
Voters mark an X in each column – although they do not have to make a second choice if they don't want to.
Mr Rees is the favourite to emerge with the highest number of first choice votes.
But because there is a high number of candidates to split the votes, it is unlikely he will get a 50 per cent majority on the first count.
This means the second preference votes will come into play.
These are taken from the candidates who have been eliminated in the first round. Any of these second preference votes for the remaining two candidates are then added to their first-round totals.
Whichever candidate has the most votes will be declared the winner.
Political scientist Dr Lisa Harrison who is based at the University of the West of England, said: "Marvin Rees is the favourite to win the first round. But it is unlikely he will get a 50 per cent majority to win on the first preference votes.
"It is therefore the second preference votes which will make the big difference."
Dr Harrison said academics in Plymouth had recently carried out research into second preference votes which showed it was virtually impossible to predict the outcome.
She said: "In this type of election when you have so many independent and non-traditional party candidates, it is very difficult to work out people's logic when it comes to where they will put their cross with their second vote.
"For a Labour stalwart, for example, they will not be prepared to give their second preference to anyone.
"But others will vote for the candidate who they dislike the least or just put down a cross at random.
"We just cannot produce a model or predict second preference voting."
At the referendum in May which decided that Bristol should have an elected mayor, the highest turnouts were in middle class wards, north of the city while the Labour heartlands south of the river had extremely low polls.
The high turnout wards will favour George Ferguson (Independent), Geoff Gollop (Con) and Jon Rogers (Lib Dem).
Moreover, the election will be in a winter month with dark evenings after the clocks have turned back – Labour turnouts in bad weather are notoriously low.
All of these factors could conspire against the Labour candidate or at least make it extremely close for him.
Currently, Mr Rees is given odds of 4/6 while running a close second are Mr Ferguson and Dr Rogers, both at 7/2. Geoff Gollop (Con) and Spud Murphy (Ind) are both running at 20/1.
At the moment, there are 13 candidates who have said they will stand.
The votes will be counted on Friday, November 16 and the result is expected to be announced sometime during the late afternoon.
The result will also be declared for the new police commissioner to represent Avon and Somerset.