UK & World News
Record Low Turnout In Police Commissioner Polls
Dire turnouts have threatened to undermine the first ever police and crime commissioner elections, with as few as 10% of voters casting their ballots in some areas.
The Electoral Reform Society branded the elections a "comedy of errors" after a record low turnout left at least one polling station - in the Newport area - completely unused.
It said it could end up being the lowest voter turnout ever in peacetime history.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the elections for the new commissioners had descended in to a shambles, with many voters taking to Twitter to describe the low turnout at their polling stations.
A UKIP MEP, John Bufton, even called for Home Secretary Theresa May to resign for presiding over a "shamefully low turnout".
In Wiltshire, the first force area to declare, the overall turnout was 15.8% as Tory candidate Angus Macpherson, a magistrate, won after a second round of voting ahead of Labour's Clare Moody.
But in one part of Wiltshire, Devizes, only 10.41% of voters took part.
Polling stations elsewhere across the country appeared to be equally as quiet as many people opted not to vote for the first generation of PCCs, despite about £75m being spent on the campaign.
Newport City Council confirmed to Sky News that no voters attended one of its polling stations, despite it being open for 15 hours from 7am to 10pm on Thursday.
Elsewhere, turnout was 11.42% in Wigan, 12% in Rochdale, 12.59% in Oldham and 12.49% in Manchester. For Greater Manchester as a whole it was 13.46%.
In Essex, just 12.81%% of voters took to the polls.
Even in Humberside, where Lord Prescott's name on the ballot paper raised the profile of the election, turnout was only 19.48%.
Sky's election analyst Michael Thrasher said the low turnout was "hardly surprising" given the elections were held in dark and chilly November "for an office that no-one has heard of" across unfamiliar police authority areas.
He said the numbers raised questions over the legitimacy of the office and those elected.
Mr Thrasher, a professor of politics at Plymouth University, added that it could end up costing as much as £13 per vote that was cast.
"When you work out how much it's going to cost per vote it becomes quite ridiculous," he said.
But policing minister Damian Green defended the turnout, saying it would improve in years to come.
He told Sky News: "I think it's likely with something new coming on that people will take time to get used to it.
"But I'm absolutely sure they will get used to it in the future and the measure of the success will be the difference they make to policing over the next few years."
Prime Minister David Cameron insisted police commissioners would have a mandate despite the low turnout.
He added: "Remember, these police and crime commissioners are replacing organisations that weren't directly elected at all."
Elections for the new office have been held in 41 police areas outside London.
The newly-elected police and crime commissioner will have the power to control budgets, set policing priorities, and hire and fire chief constables.
The Electoral Reform Society had predicted a turnout of 18.5% before the polls began, which would be below the previous record low in a national poll in peacetime - 23% in the 1999 European elections.
The society's chief executive, Katie Ghose, said: "This election has been a comedy of errors from start to finish.
"The Home Office has operated under the assumption that 'if you build it they will come'. Democracy just doesn't work that way.
"There have been avoidable errors at every step, and those responsible should be held to account."
One of the biggest problems has been that people are not prepared to put a cross beside the name of someone they know little, if anything, about.
Glenda Adcock from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk said she always votes, but not this time.
"I know nothing about the candidates or anything really so I'm not bothering," she said,
And while Bernard Jennings had decided he would take part, he agreed the information had been poor.
"I think they could have done a lot more to help people out so you have a better understanding of what everyone stands for," he said.