LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Editor, Perhaps a major reason for the low voter turnout in last month’s civic election is the very fact that voters were confronted with a slate of 30 council candidates, from which they could choose up to ten. Knowing precisely whom to choose was next to impossible for any voter, even those who were well-aware of the issues at stake and who wished to use those votes judiciously. Candidates’ publicity, which for monetary reasons was understandably quite limited, was inevitably short on detail and limited to ‘motherhood’ type statements. There were lawn signs a-plenty, but they told you absolutely nothing except that an election was imminent; in fact, they only added to voter distress and confusion, as a plethora of mostly unfamiliar names appeared to sprout daily on every street corner. Unless you were both able and prepared to go out yourself to a candidates’ meeting, in my experience at least, there was zero chance that they or their canvassers would be meeting you at your door.
For most people, seeking out 30 web sites of each candidate’s bio and platform was just not going to happen either (especially given that some were totally non- existent). The idea that 25 000 or so potential electors should email 30 separate candidates for information was also quite nonsensical, although as a last resort that was in fact what I myself did out of frustration - my other option being to very reluctantly abstain from voting at all. Thankfully in my case, this, plus a bit of on-line research and news media reports brought sufficient result to enable me to cast ballots for 5 candidates, especially as about 1/ 3rd of them didn’t even respond to the brief and very specific email I sent - so much for the patently ridiculous notion that, as things presently stand, each council member supposedly responds to the needs and issues of each and every elector!
Given all the above, who can blame voters for opting for that familiar name and face rather than take an ill-informed and inherently risky electoral shot in the dark? Or even of opting out of voting entirely, as evidently so many did, especially if newcomers to Cornwall?
At some point before the next civic election, the issues of council’s composition and how that should be determined in future clearly need serious re-evaluation, with a view to considerable amendment. Hopefully, our new mayor and council will to be both willing and up to the task of addressing these issues before 2022 rolls around.