Thursday was a very strange day. Ever since I arrived at Kent County Council in 2001, our County elections has coincided with the General Election. it was always going to be interesting to see what would happen when local district and borough elections fell on the same day, pushing the turnout up by, in some cases, 300%.
And in Tunbridge Wells at least, the results were fascinating. Right up until the polls closed, almost every polling station had a queue snaking around its foyer, and in some cases out onto the street.
There was clearly a “Clegg Bounce” at a local level – you could see it in the results as the LibDems in some areas got more votes than they’d had in years. Labour, too, found staunch support from those who came out in support for Brown.
But one thing is clear – the polling day process must be overhauled. Up and down the country, hundreds were left unable to use their vote because staff and systems simply couldn’t cope. Jenny Watson, Chairman of the Electoral Commission denies any responsibility for this, choosing to blame “the Victorian system” of voting in this country. Interestingly, I didn’t hear her voicing concerns before.
One thing is clear. If we truly embrace democracy, our voting systems should be able to cope with a full hundred percent turnout, let along seventy five percent.
Anything less is suppression of the democratic process.