LETTER: How system works for electing mayor

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I refer to a series of letters which have appeared in the Chad over recent weeks. Namely Paul Bradshaw’s letters of the 10th and 31st December and Rita Bellhouse’s letter of the 24th which referred to the voting system used for the election of the Mansfield district directly elected mayor.

I felt it was important as the returning officer for Mansfield District Council to set the record straight as to how the system for voting for a directly elected mayor works as there appears to be some confusion.

Directly elected mayors, including the Mayor of London, are elected using a system called the Supplementary Vote System (SV).Under SV, voters are limited to a first and second preference choice only.

A voter marks a cross in the first column for their first preference candidate and another cross in the second column for their second preference (if they wish to do so).

The ballot papers are counted and if a candidate received more than 50 per cent of the first preference votes on the first count, then they are elected.

If no candidate reaches the 50 per cent threshold, the two candidates with the highest number of votes are retained and the other candidates are eliminated.

The second preferences on the ballot papers of the eliminated candidates are counted and any cast for the two remaining candidates are added to their first round vote total. The candidate with the most votes at the end of this process is elected.

It is wrong to suggest that the system requires the voter to rank the candidates in preference order (one, two, three and so on).

Whilst there are other electoral systems widely used in the UK that use such systems, namely the Alternative Vote and the Single Transferable Vote, the former used in the House of Commons for the election of chairs to select committees and the latter used for electing the Northern Ireland Assembly and for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they are not used for mayoral elections anywhere in the UK.

The referendum to which Mr Bradshaw refers in his letter of the 10th December asked the electorate if they wished to use the Alternative Vote system for the election of MPs rather than the First-Past-the-Post system.

The Alternative Vote system was however rejected for the election of MPs.

Ruth Marlow

Returning Officer

Mansfield District Council

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the voting system the right one? Do we still need a directly elected mayor at all?

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