Malcolm Clark presents a simple guide to voting in today’s London Assembly and Mayoral elections
London Assembly – Constituency Member:
This is your yellow coloured ballot paper.
You have one vote for the candidate you prefer. The winner is the candidate with most votes in that constituency. Constituencies are made up of pairs of boroughs (e.g. Lambeth and Southwark) or in a couple of instances three boroughs.
Historically, the constituency Assembly Member seats have been won by either the Conservatives or Labour, so for your vote to have maximum effect – e.g. for defeating a Tory – voting for the Labour candidate is the best approach.
However, if all Assembly Members were elected in this winner-takes-all way, it would replicate the problems and discontent with the way we elect our MPs; hence…
London Assembly – London-wide Assembly Member:
This is your orange coloured ballot paper.
You have one vote for the party you prefer. A more proportional voting system is used so that the overall Assembly reflects how all of London voted. It works by adding together all votes cast (for the London-wide Assembly Member list) across London. Any party with less than 5% of the total vote is eliminated.
A formula is then used to proportionally allocate the 11 London-wide seats, taking into account any constituency Assembly Members the parties have already won. Here’s another chance to vote with your heart and for that vote to count.
Voting Green, Labour, Lib Dem (or indeed one of the smaller parties or independents if they get more than 5% London-wide) will have a direct bearing on how many seats that party ends up with in the London Assembly.
London Mayor – The ballot paper:
• Pink ballot paper;
• One vote for your first choice candidate – put an X in the first column, next to that person’s name;
• [Optional] One vote for your second choice candidate – put an X in the second column, in line with that person’s name.
London Mayor – Making the most of your vote:
If – like me – Ken Livingstone’s policies make him your first choice candidate, put him as your first choice. However, you may feel there is another candidate who most closely matches your values or what your heart believes – whether that be Siobhan Benita (Independent candidate) or Jenny Jones (Green) or Brian Paddick (Lib Dem). If so, then vote for them first.
However, if you voted for one of these other candidates, then put Ken down as your second choice. Otherwise (unless you vote for Boris Johnson or want him to win) your vote won’t count to the final result.
London Mayor – How it works:
A candidate needs to get more than 50% of first choice votes to win outright. Boris (or Ken) are highly unlikely to achieve this. Thus there will be a second stage. The top two candidates remain – again based on opinion polls highly likely to be Ken and Boris. All the other candidates will be eliminated and their ballots looked at again for second preferences.
Where people have cast their 2nd choice for one of those two remaining candidates, that is added onto their total. The winner is then the one with the most votes.
So if you want to make the most of your vote, your second choice candidate should be one of the ones most likely to end up in the top two – Ken or Boris – if you haven’t already voted for that candidate.
• Vote 2012: London 26 Apr 2012
n.b. The London Elects website – www.londonelects.org.uk – has non-partisan info about all aspects of the elections.