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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.

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