Saturday, July 07, 2012

Supplementary voting system for Bristol's Mayoral election

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Bristol’s first Elected Mayor (and the city’s first Police Crime Commissioner) will be chosen this November using a voting system called the supplementary vote (though I suspect many Bristol voters are as yet unaware of this due to the very poor level and quality of information that’s been made available). This system means you have votes to cast for two candidates ie you can choose first and second preferences. At the count the electoral authorities start by totaling all the first preference votes. Any candidate achieving over 50% wins, though with many candidates standing – including all the political parties plus independents - this is unlikely to happen. If no-one gets 50% the authorities eliminate all but the top two candidates, and in a second round redistribute all the votes for everybody else by the second preference on the ballot paper.

This means you can vote for your absolute first preference without worrying about wasting your vote because you know they can’t win this time. You have your second preference vote to cast for whichever of the likely top two candidates you least object to being mayor or don’t mind them giving them a go. In Bristol the top two look like being independent candidate George Ferguson and the Labour Party’s Marvin Rees, at least for the present (you could vote for someone else as a second preference or not cast your second vote at all, but then would not affect the result at all).

Here’s the Electoral reform Society guide to the supplementary voting system: