Every year Residents of Gloucester are asked to vote in one election or another. 3 years in 4 its about City Elections, the other year is County. Throw in Parliamentary Elections, Europeans, Police and Crime and the odd Parish, there is a lot to vote for, yet not many people do. Mike Wilkinson in his politics column today suggests a change to the voting system and given what I have learned now, I agree.
Before I was elected, I thought voting in thirds was a good idea, it allowed for continuity and no radical change. But since my experience of the County Council, I have changed my mind. I think the City should turn to all out elections. The main reason is that if the electorate want to see radical change, then it just wont happen until the end of a three-year cycle. Yet if people want to see a change in party, then an all out election will meet that demand. It just might contribute to reducing the apathy to local voting if that vote is more likely to make a difference.
The other reason is cost, running annual elections is expensive, to only have one election every 4 years will (as you would think) reduce the cost. To select the right years will reduce it further, such as always pulling two sets of elections together and not having random ones such as the Police and Crime Commissioner at different times.
My original argument of continuity I think is also not as big a factor as I thought. There will be councillors who are re-elected, but also the training you receive is very good and the officers support you, regardless of political colour.
So, I believe that is what we should drive for in Gloucester City, all out elections every 4 years, not in the same year as County, but merging with bigger/smaller ones where appropriate.
What do you think? Would you go and vote if you knew it made more impact almost immediately, rather than waiting to see a 4 year cycle complete?
PS: On the topic of UKIP, also mentioned in Mikes Column, I think while the deserting Tory vote obviously played well for me, UKIP didn’t just gain from the Conservatives, but from Labour too. Since the Lib-Dems have proven themselves so untrustworthy as a Protest vote, the UKIP candidates have been able to take advantage of being the next in line for the Protest, or “none of the above”.