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Record voter turnout predicted

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Returning officers across the country have indicated they are seeing a high turnout of voters for the general and local elections.

The latest poll by Ipsos Mori reported eight in 10 (82%) of 1,096 registered voters it surveyed were ‘absolutely certain to vote’. The market researchers said their “experience suggests that this figure tends to overstate the actual turnout”. As a result the company predicted the actual turnout would be between 72% and 74%.

In 2010, the turnout was 65.1%, which was up from 61.4% in 2005, and 59.4% in 2001. The lowest turnout in a general election was 57.2 % in 1918 at the end of the First World War.

Today, observations among senior local government staff indicated the projections of a record turnout could be accurate.

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan and Doncaster MBC chief executive Jo Miller, who are returning officers for the elections, said polling stations in their respective areas were “busy”.

Jo Rooney, chief executive of Wakefield MDC and Garry Payne, chief executive and returning officer at Wyre BC, also tweeted polling stations were “very busy”.

A number of chief executives also highlighted high returns of postal votes. Mr Riordan tweeted: “#Leeds has largest number (100k) registered postal voters in UK (by council) & we’ve had over 82% returned, with a ward nudging 90%”.

Sandwell MBC chief executive Jan Britton said one ward in the borough had an 88% return rate, with the average around 75%.

Commenting on the Ipsos Mori forecast he said: “Can believe this in Sandwell. Polling Stations are busy and gearing up for evening rush.”

The chief executive of Brighton & Hove City Council Penny Thompson said voting was “brisk” in the polling stations she had visited, while the local authority’s deputy returning officer Valerie Pearce tweeted: “Polling staff have had some voters saying they don’t want parliamentary ballots & some saying they don’t want local ballots.”

In the last parliament the city was home to the Green party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, who is contesting the seat again. The party also runs a minority administration on the council and issues over uncollected waste and poor recycling rates have proved unpopular. The Greens also wanted to increase council tax by 5.9%, which would have triggered a referendum had the proposal not been blocked by opposition party members sitting on the local authority.


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