England

Spoilt West Midlands PCC ballot papers sparks call for change

A count
Image caption Of 1.2 million votes cast across five PCC elections in the West Midlands region, more than 46,000 were rejected

Calls have been made to change the electoral system after more than 46,000 ballot papers were spoilt in Police and Crime Commissioner elections across the West Midlands region.

One returning officer said he believed the current first and second preference system was too confusing.

Staffordshire PCC Matthew Ellis called for a "first past the post" system instead.

More than 28,000 papers were spoilt in the West Midlands vote alone.

Image caption Voters had to tick their first and second preference candidates

This was just under five per cent of the entire vote.

In West Mercia more than 5,500 votes were rejected; more than 5,000 were spoilt in Gloucestershire; 4,000 in Staffordshire and over 3,000 in Warwickshire.

Force No. votes spoilt 2016 % of votes No. votes spoilt 2012 % of votes
Gloucestershire 5,115 3.57 2,115 2.62
Warwickshire 3,185 2.81 1,796 2.72
West Mercia 5,566 2.80 No figures available No figures available
West Midlands 28,346 4.88 7,063 2.88
Staffordshire 4,065 2.28 2,843 2.8

West Midlands Police area returning officer Mark Rogers said: "We saw very few papers that were deliberately spoilt, where people had gone out of their way to deface the ballot paper.

"More than half of the papers that were rejected was because there was no mark on the ballot paper at all.

Image caption Staffordshire's PCC Matthew Ellis said it "defeats the object" of an election if thousands of people are confused by the system

"People do get confused because they've basically experienced first past the post with most other elections and this is different.

"I think it's just left people thinking 'I don't know what this piece of paper's for'."

Staffordshire PCC Matthew Ellis, who was re-elected for a second time, called for the system to change.

"My preference would be that we go for a traditional 'first past the post'; it's clear, it's tidy. A number of people vote for a candidate, that candidate gets in," he said.

"[The current system] might seem fairer but If we go through the rigmarole of having a massive proportion of people utterly confused then as far as I'm concerned it defeats the object."

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