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'How do we get more people to vote?'

Ramsey Commissioners investigating ways of improving turnout

A local authority on the Island has decided to investigate how it can get more people interested in politics.

Ramsey Town Commissioners were disappointed at the low turnout in their recently held  by-election, where just 16% of the more than 5,700 registered voters went to the polls.

One of those tasked with organising the election was the commissioners’ clerk, Peter Whiteway. He says the steps taken to inform the public about the election and build interest were ‘reasonably successful’ at reaching people, but admits they failed to result in a healthy turnout.

A lack of interest in local authority elections is an historic trend, and not exclusive to Ramsey. Another recent by-election in Derby Ward, Douglas, saw barely a fifth of voters take part.

Keen to buck the trend, Ramsey commissioners have discussed three ways the authority can get the public involved. It’s asked the Department of Infrastructure to investigate electronic voting, and will examine its own election policies to see what can be improved.

A bone of contention amongst candidates and voters alike is the 42-day time frame in which by-elections must be held according to local government legislation. Many feel this window is too short to build interest in an election, and the commissioners are keen to investigate making it longer, to give candidates more time to canvass.

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