Why is Suffolk's police election so low-key this year?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Next month Suffolk voters will have their third chance to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for the county - but this year's election has been overshadowed by the county council poll.
The PCC election should have taken place last year, but elections were cancelled because of the Covid pandemic and put off by 12 months.
That means that the winner will serve a three-year term, rather than four, to ensure they return to their normal pattern - but although the position is one of the most important in the public life of Suffolk, this year it has been rather low-key.
In PCC elections everyone has two preferences - you mark the candidates on the ballot paper 1 and 2. If no one gets an overall majority on the first count, all except the top two candidates are eliminated and if their second preference is in the top two their votes are reallocated.
Conservative TIm Passmore has been PCC since the post was first created in November 2012, and is seeking a third term.
In his first election he was second in the count for first preferences - but overtook Labour's Jane Basham when the second preference votes were added in.
Five years ago, he was ahead in the first count - but did not quite reach the 50% mark. However he was a clear winner when the second preferences were included.
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This year he is being challenged by Labour candidate Elizabeth Hughes - an Ipswich Borough Councillor, James Sandbach from the Liberal Democrats and Andy Patmore from the Green Party.
However while the campaigning for the county council election across Suffolk has been getting very keen - and there is also considerable work going on for the borough election in Ipswich, the PCC election has so far been fairly low-key.
Opposition campaigners privately accept that Mr Passmore may be hard to dislodge - he has shown himself to be willing to tackle the government on issues like police funding even though he is from the same political party.
Most campaigners are concentrating their efforts on potentially close county divisions or borough wards rather than the PCC election which includes votes from across the county.
The PCC election votes are due to be counted on the day after the county council divisions - probably on Saturday, May 8. Individual counts organised by district and borough returning officers will be sent through to the central count which is being organised by East Suffolk chief executive Stephen Baker at the Suffolk Police Headquarters at Martlesham - where the result is expected to announced during the afternoon.