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SWINDON ELECTIONS: Town stands by for a voting Bonanza
VOTERS in Swindon will be treated to a bonanza of balloting this May 5.
Not just one, but three sets of votes are running at the same time.
One set will see voters choose who they want to represent them in their Swindon Council ward.
At the same time, voters can choose parish councillors.
And they will receive a third voting paper too – for the national Alternative Voting referendum.
Polls for all three sets of votes open at 7am on Thursday, May 5, and close at 10pm.
County the votes
Counting for the borough council results will be taking place throughout the night on May 5/6.
Results will be announced as and when they are known, and the objective is to have them all done by 2am.
The parish council results will be counted on Friday afternoon, when it is also expected the winners will be announced.
The AV results will be also counted on the afternoon of May 6. A national result and a regional result will be announced sometime on May 6, but the time is not yet clear.
There will be no breakdown of the referendum results for Swindon itself.
l Throughout the week, we will bring you a breakdown of each council ward and the prospective candidates vying for your vote.
Every year, one third of Swindon’s 59 council seats come up for election.
Then after three years of this, there is a pause of one year.
Each time a seat comes up for election, it forces an existing councillor to defend their position against rivals from other parties.
Or, if they are standing down, voters could choose a new councillor of the same party to take control.
But, in a twist, this arrangement will be different next year.
Next year the ward boundaries are set to change for the town, as previously reported by the Adver.
As part of the changes, the whole council will be re-elected all at once in May 2012.
Then in 2013, the usual three-year cycle will kick back in.
The town is broken down into 20 wards.
Currently the Conservatives control the council.
They hold 40 seats, Labour is the second largest party with 15 seats while the Liberal Democrats currently have four seats.
PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS
THERE are 15 parish and town councils in the Swindon Borough Council area.
They are largely non-political bodies, and are responsible for very parochial issues like pathway lighting, cemeteries, playing fields and allotments. Swindon Borough Council is also obliged to consult these smaller councils over planning applications.
This year, only two will have elections – Highworth Town Council, and Wroughton Parish Council. There were also supposed to be elections in Chiseldon Parish Council, Haydon Wick Parish Council and Stratton St Margaret Parish Council. But now these last three have been cancelled.
So few residents actually put themselves forward for nomination, that they are unable to have a proper ballots. Instead, anyone who put themselves forward in these parish councils is automatically given the seat.
ALTERNATIVE VOTNG (AV) REFERENDUM
Alternative Voting (AV) is the system which could replace the traditional first-past-the-post system for electing MPs to Westminster.
Under first-past-the-post, the person with the most votes wins the seat.
Under AV, you rank candidates by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on, in order of preference.
If no-one reaches over 50 per cent, then the candidate with the fewest number 1 votes is eliminated.
Those who voted for this candidate as their number 1 has the other candidates which they ranked as 2, 3, 4, 5 etc relabelled as 1, 2, 3, 4. These relabelled votes are then transferred to the remaining candidates.
This process continues until an outright winner has been arrived at.
This system ensures that someone who has received an outright minority of votes cannot win.
This currently happens under first-past-the-post.
But critics of AV say the system is too complex.