HAMPSHIRE goes to the polls today in the county council elections – but one party leader is predicting turn out could be the lowest for 20 years.
Keith House, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Hampshire County Council, said, without the incentive of a General Election or election to the European Parliament, voters will simply not turn out in such large numbers.
2194389 Other parties predicted voter apathy, due to disillusionment, but also protest votes against the current Government.
But the Tories said they were expecting a good turnout. Voting numbers at the last county council election in 2009 fell across the county compared to the previous one, which coincided with the 2005 General Election.
Lowest was in Bordon, Whitehill and Lindford, East Hampshire, where 27.77 per cent of the electorate voted.
Cllr House said for the first time in two decades neither national or European elections coincided with today’s vote.
He said, when coupled with a General Election, normally 70 per cent of the electorate go to the polls but he expects turnout this time of around 30 or 40 per cent – lower than 2009.
Green member, Totton North Councillor Alan Weeks, echoed this prediction of low turnout, saying he expected between 25 and 30 per cent, compared with around 33 per cent in 2009.
But, he said some may turn to parties like UKIP or Green in protest at the traditional big three – Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat.
However, Conservative spokesman Colin Davidovitz said: “A large number of people have already used their postal votes and from the pledges we have received we expect a good turnout and to make gains.”
Labour’s only member in Hampshire Jane Frankum said she believed turn out would not be high as she had seen a lot of apathy from people dissatisfied with the Coalition Government.
But equally, she had spoken to others planning to protest vote against those same parties.
“I’ve never been more unsure of what will happen than this time in terms of turnout,” she said.
Ray Finch, south east spokesman for UKIP, who is standing in the Bedhampton and Leigh Park in Havant, said he felt turnout would be down on 2009 due to staunch voters of the three main parties feeling disillusioned and choosing not to vote.
But, he added that UKIP had spoken to many people at the door who would be voting for them having not voted for 20 or 30 years.