Posted by: John Brace | 9th May 2011

What next for voting reform?

After people overwhelmingly on Wirral and the UK voted no to voting reform I have had brief conversations with one who who voted No and why they did so.

I won’t name names but I’ll call them person A:-

Person A: I voted No, because I was told AV will cost extra money.

Myself: This is true, the referendum cost an estimate of £82 million with a further £9 million set aside for voter education. However this £91 million is spent whether its implemented or not and before you cast your ballot.

Person A: Oh I didn’t know that, I thought they were referring to increased costs of counting.

Myself: It won’t cost anymore to count AV because in the majority of elections the candidate gets over 50% of the vote, therefore it’ll cost the same amount to count as under first past the post.

Person A: But what about electronic counting machines?

Myself: They would never have been needed, a piece of paper and pen or pencil is all that’s required and this is also required under FPTP.

Person A: Oh I didn’t realise that, thanks for telling me.

In Wirral the estimated increased cost for the AV referendum will be £319,141 (about £3/vote counted). This would cover things like printing of ballot papers, counting of ballot papers, Counting Officer fee, postage etc. However due to the local election on the same day many costs were shared.

The same polling station staff were used for both. The same ballot boxes were used. Postal voters were sent both ballots together etc. All this money spent on the referendum is refunded to Wirral Council by central government.

The Returning Officer fee Steve Maddox used to get was on top of his six-figure salary. So I would expect that Bill Norman, this year’s returning officer has got a lot of extra money for being Returning Officer and Counting Officer for the referendum.