The ballot paper for mayor election is different to the one most people are used to for local and general elections.
Instead of voting for one candidate, you’re encouraged to vote for two – your 1st choice and your 2nd choice.
You MUST vote for a 1st choice if you wish to have your say.
You MAY vote for a 2nd choice.
This is optional – you may leave your 2nd choice blank, but we’d encourage you not to. If you leave it blank, it will increase the chance of your least favourite candidate being elected.
If you select the same candidate for your 1st and 2nd choice, only your 1st choice will be effective. Your 2nd choice will NOT be used – it will be treated as if you left it blank.
It works well when voters use it in the simple way it was intended but if voters try to ‘game’ their choices (e.g. by leaving 2nd choice blank as ‘strategy’), it does not work as well.
When the ballot papers have been collected, the 1st choice votes are all counted. For now, the 2nd choice votes are ignored.
One of the following will happen:
- One of the candidates receives at least 50% of the 1st choice votes. They are elected as mayor.
- If no candidate gets at least 50% then the election becomes a run-off.
This ensures that if there is a clear winner, they are elected.
In a run-off, the two candidates with the highest number of 1st choice votes are put head-to-head and the rest of the candidates are no longer in the running.
- If your 1st choice is in the run-off, your 2nd choice will be ignored.
- If your 1st choice did not make it through but your 2nd choice did, then your 2nd choice candidate will have your vote added to their total.
The candidate with the highest total is then elected as mayor.
This ensures the winner is well supported – either as favourite or second favourite.
How Should I Vote?
You should vote authentically for your 1st and 2nd choice candidate. This is absolutely the best approach.
There is NO strategic advantage to leaving your 2nd choice blank.
The only consequence will be that you lose your influence in the event of a run-off.
That’s because there are three outcomes:
- A candidate wins at least 50% of the 1st choices and a mayor is elected only on 1st choice votes.
- Your 1st choice makes it into the run-off. Your 2nd choice will then be ignored and will NOT count against your 1st choice.
- Your 1st choice does not make it into the run-off. Your 2nd choice will then receive your vote. If no candidate stands out as a 2nd choice, but you would like one NOT to be mayor, this is your chance to make that difference.
If you have multiple 2nd choices, or multiple candidates that you do not wish to win, you’re encouraged by us to:
- Use our site and other sources to find a preference
- Nominate a 2nd choice at random from the ones you would [like most/dislike least] on the assumption that other voters will do the same and this will balance out your nudge.
Why is This System Better?
Supplementary Vote is considered by most observers to be a better system than FPTP.
- It is more likely to elect a candidate that appeals to more people (this may involve compromise).
- It encourages candidates to engage with voters outside of their typical support base.
- It discourages ‘tactical voting’ by giving better representation to candidates with lower historical profile. i.e. if you don’t think your candidate can win and you only have one vote then you’re more tempted to vote for someone with widespread support in order to keep your least favourites out – this is common in General Elections.
Please take a look at the official North of Tyne Mayor booklet you’ve received by post – it’s available here. A guide to the voting system is on spread-pages 4 and 5 of the 12-page booklet.