by Megan Stodel // 15 November 2012, 09:55
Today is 15 November, which means there are elections going on in most of England and Wales.
Firstly, in 41 police force areas (excluding London), people will be able to vote for a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). This is rather controversial; many think it's an inappropriate position to be up for election and there is much confusion over the exact nature of the job. A description on the Home Office website isn't terribly illuminating:
The job of the police and crime commissioner will be to ensure the policing needs of their communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police, building confidence in the system and restoring trust.
Nevertheless, whether you think it's a great new system or an implausible awful idea, it's happening! It also seems likely that there'll be low turnout, due partly to the reasons above and also due to the fact that it hasn't been the most publicised election in the world. The Electoral Reform Society has reported that turnout could be around 18.5% - a shockingly low proportion that will still give elected officials a supposed mandate. Therefore, if you can vote, have a look at the candidates standing in your area - and if one seems better than the others (or one seems particularly worse), then I urge you to vote.
The second election is in Bristol, the only city to call for an elected mayor in a referendum earlier this year. I have posted a report on a Women's Question Time organised by Bristol Women's Voice, where 8 of the candidates responded to questions put to them on issues that could specifically affect women. It's worth having a look if you can vote in Bristol. Another good resource is this Bristol Fawcett document, which has tracked the top candidates' views on women's interests and gender equality.
Finally, there's a by election in Corby, for the vacated seat of Louise Mensch.
So, if you live anywhere in England and Wales other than London, then you could vote today! If you'd like to affect what's happening where you live, then have a look at the candidates in your area (if you haven't already!) and get down to a polling station.
Picture of Bristol Women's Question Time, used with permission from Bristol Women's Voice.