Voting system used to elect mayors for Doncaster and South Yorkshire is set to change

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Thursday, 16th September 2021, 2:17 pm
In May, Mayor Ros Jones was elected in the second round

The voting system used to choose elected mayors for Doncaster and South Yorkshire is set to change, the government has announced.

Ministers have said that the Supplementary Vote or Single Transferable Vote system will end with it being replaced by the First Past the Post system as part of a ‘manifesto commitment’.

The new legislation will also cover the South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner elections.

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What is the Supplementary Vote?

With the Supplementary Vote, if no candidate gets over 50 per cent of the vote, the top two candidates continue to a run-off and all other candidates are eliminated.

When casting their ballot, voters can put a second choice – who they would vote for in a runoff – on the original ballot paper.

If a voter’s favourite candidate gets through, the vote is counted for them in the run-off. If they didn’t, but the second choice did, your vote goes to them. The run-off candidate with the most votes is declared the winner.

Supporters say this system stops candidates winning on low levels of support, but doesn’t need them to get half the vote.

Critics, including those in the current administration, say SV leads to ‘wasted votes’ and can be confusing.

What is First Past the Post?

The system is used in the majority of English elections and it is used to elect councillors and MPs in Doncaster.

Supporters say that the system – where the candidate who gets the most votes wins – is simple to understand and elects a clear winner.

But critics say a person can be elected even without securing 50 per cent of the vote with more people not voting for them than who did.

What it means for Doncaster?

Earlier this year in May, Mayor Ros Jones was elected in the second round as she did not get 50 per cent of first preference votes.

In 2017, Mayor Jones didn’t need the second round of voting after she received 50.9 per cent of the vote.

But interestingly, former English Democrat Mayor Peter Davies would not have been elected in 2009 if First Past the Post was used as he lost the first round of voting to independent candidate Michael Maye.

Davies was elected on second preference votes which got him over the 50 per cent mark.

Luke Hall, Minister for Local Government, said: “Elected mayors can provide strong leadership, and must be held to account at the ballot box.

“The Supplementary Vote is an anomaly which confuses the public and is out of step with other elections in England, both local and national.

“Moving to First Past the Post will make it easier for voters to express a clear choice.”