Sunday, June 13, 2010

How Often is Enough?

I believe it costs about £50,000 to run an election in Hart, the small district in NE Hampshire where I live. That's about a pound per registered voter, which I think is not bad.

The way we run elections here is that in three out of four years we elect one third of our district councillors (for a four year term) and in the fourth year we elect county councillors.

So, for example,

  • 2009: elected county councillors
  • 2010: elected 1/3 of district councillors
  • 2011: elect 1/3 district councillors
  • 2012: elect 1/3 of district councillors

However, there is the option of having all-in elections instead where we would elect district councillors all at once for a four year term, as we do with county councillors. In these straitened times, that would save us two elections every four years, or about £100,000. In a small district like Hart, that's a useful amount of money.

There is a contrary view that having elections more often gives voters a chance to register their approval or disagreement with the council more often. While that is true, it is costly. It also means that councillors spend more time electioneering and less doing the work you voted them in to do.

As you can tell, I don't favour the annual voting system. That's less important than what you think: would you, as a voter, prefer to vote more often at a higher cost, or would you prefer to save money but have fewer opportunities to register your views?

Please do let me know, either directly or via the comments section below.

Update: For what it's worth, based on a quick scan of their websites our neighbouring councils appear to vote as follows:

Basingstoke: Annually (like Hart)
Bracknell: All in every four years
East Hampshire: All in every four years
Surrey Heath: All in every four years
Wokingham: Annually (like Hart)


Anonymous said...

A difficult one Sean, Perhaps we should have fewer election until the economy improves and ensure that all PC elections occur on the same dates as Hart's.
Talking of the economy, how about suspending Councillors allowancesd for a while. We never had them we I joined Fleet U.D.C.
Frank Page

Libertarian said...

Why have two councils at all?

It's not necessary . I assume there are also lots of parish councils as well.

Sean Haffey said...

You're right (and I assume you are not from the UK).

The idea, in theory, is to push decisions down to the most sensible local level. In practice this means a number of levels of local government.

ScouseHouse said...

You're also ignoring the fact that many of your constituents would argue councillors only do their job all year round >>because<< there is an election every year. Giving every councillor three years off before they have to start campaigning again is a recipe for ignoring the public. How often have you heard "you only come round at election time"? Imagine if election time was 48 rather than 12 months away?

roman said...

well here in London we do the 'all once every 4 years' routine, and quite frankly I don't think it makes any difference to whether the councillors do their job properly.

The good guys continue work hard, (some of) the bad guys continue to get elected because voters are fooled by silly things.

Over the past few years, Londoners have had an election virtually every year, and our electorate are truly fed up with them all, judging by doorstep comments!