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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Mayor voting system is condemned
Nicholas Bye
New mayor Nicholas Bye admitted the election turnout was "very poor"
The voting system used to elect a Devon mayor has been condemned as a total failure and the government has been asked to drop it for future elections.

Conservative Nicholas Bye, 45, was elected mayor of Torbay last Thursday. But turnout was 24%, and Mr Bye polled only 7% of all people entitled to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society says the system, which used a second preference vote, caused difficulty and confusion.

It said Mr Bye won fairly by the rules, but said the rules needed changing.

Independent candidates

The Society said the supplementary vote system, offering a second preference vote, confused voters because nearly 1,750 of 24,500 ballot papers issued were spoiled.

It said this was either because people could not understand the system or could not be bothered to cast a second preference vote.

Society chief executive Ken Ritchie has also written to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, questioning whether a candidate from a political party should have won when it was quite possible that more than 50% of electors voted for the election's 11 independent candidates.

Mr Ritchie said: "Nick Bye won fair and square under the rules and we congratulate him on that victory.

"But the rules are totally inadequate for electing a person who should enjoy the majority support and confidence of local people."

Mayor Bye, from Torquay, who was elected to serve a five-year term, admitted the "very poor" turnout of 24% meant it was not a "triumphant victory".


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