Polling day has arrived in large parts of the region – it’s time to head to odd-smelling portacabins and echoey school halls to cast your vote. Mayoral elections are taking place in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, local elections in Cumbria, Lancashire, and North Wales.
The electorates of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral are voting for the combined Liverpool City Region mayor. The Greater Manchester mayor will chair the combined authority of Wigan, Stockport, Salford, Bury, Bolton, Trafford, Manchester, Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside.
Polling stations opened at 7am and close at 10pm. Joe Anderson, city mayor for Liverpool and candidate in the general election, said: “Sunshine on election day always a good sign,” invoking the age-old political belief that Labour voters are more inclined to visit a polling station if the weather is good.
Sean Anstee, Tory candidate in the GM race, was also enjoying the weather, encouraging dog walkers to post pictures of their dogs after they have voted. Architect Ewen Miller, managing director of Calder Peel, joined in the fun with a snap of Basil.
Turnout will be closely watched to see how much the newly created role of mayor has captured public interest. One campaign team insider said anything above 15% would be a great achievement. The first police and crime commissioner elections in 2012 attracted less than 14% in both Merseyside and Greater Manchester. Turnout is expected to be known early on Friday morning. The count will begin at midday on Friday and results are expected to be announced around 6pm.
The mayoral elections are unusual in using the Supplementary Voting System. Voters mark a cross in two boxes, one in the column for first choice candidate and another for their second choice. The mayoral votes will be counted as follows:
- If one candidate gets more than 50% of the first-choice votes, they will become the Mayor
- If no candidate receives a majority of votes, all candidates will be eliminated apart from the two with the highest number of first-choice votes
- Any second-choice votes for the two remaining candidates will be added to their first-choice totals. The candidate with the highest overall total will then be declared the Mayor
The Supplementary Voting System is an alternative to the more widely used First Past the Post system which is often criticised as it enables parties to form governments with less than a majority of the vote. The Supplementary Voting System is an attempt to avoid a mayoral candidate winning without majority support, unlike the First Past the Post system used for national and other local elections.
Meanwhile, there are county elections taking place in Lancashire, where no party has overall control currently; Labour needs three seats to take control and the Conservatives would need seven. In Cumbria, the Conservatives are challenging the Lib-Lab coalition at county level following their recent parliamentary by-election success in Copeland.
There are local elections taking place across North Wales, in Flintshire, Gwynedd, Denbighshire, Anglesey, Conwy and Wrexham.
There are also individual ward by-elections for local councillors in Rusholme in Manchester, Wavertree, Liverpool and Knutsford in Cheshire East.