When Watford voters go to the polls on 3 May to choose their next elected Mayor, they will notice that the ballot paper is different from the ones for borough ward and parliamentary elections.
That’s because the supplementary voting system is used for elected mayors in England and Wales instead of the usual first past the post system.
Under supplementary voting, voters have a first preference choice and also a second preference choice.
The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate along with their party name, party logo and their address. There are two columns next to each name. Watford voters will be asked to vote for their first-choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the first-choice column, and vote for their second-choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the second-choice column.
If voters have marked a first-choice, they can choose to mark a second-choice. But if they only mark a cross in the second-choice column, their vote won't be counted.
Manny Lewis, Watford Borough Council’s Managing Director and Returning Officer, said: “This is an important election for Watford because people will be voting in a new directly elected Mayor, so it’s vital that people do get out and vote. Because the voting system is slightly different for elected mayors, we have a huge number of spoilt papers at each mayoral election. We want to avoid this as much as possible by making sure people know what to expect before they turn up to vote.”
At the election count, all first preference votes are counted. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the first preference votes on the first count, they are elected. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the second preference votes are then counted.
Borough elections will also be taking place on 3 May but these elections use the traditional first past the post electoral system.