JUST one in seven Kirklees voters turned out to elect West Yorkshire's first Police Commissioner last night.
Voter apathy reigned supreme last night as polls staff recorded a turnout of just 13.7% in Kirklees and 13.76% in West Yorkshire.
The candidates in our region are Andrew Marchington (Lib Dem), Marks Burns-Williamson (Labour), Geraldine Carter (Conservative) and Cedric Christie (Independent).
Kirklees council leader Mehboob Khan said: "The government was warned that to have important elections in the middle of November would have a disastrous impact on voter turnout. They ignored the warnings and also cancelled the free postal delivery of election material to voters which is available in national elections so it's no surprise the turnout is as low as it is. Labour had asked for the election in May.''
Disinterest also blighted polls across the country with turnouts as low as 10.54% in Coventry.
This morning Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper criticised the Government for not doing enough to promote the election.
See full results of West Yorkshire's first Police Commissioner Election later today here.
In Wiltshire, the first force area to declare, the overall turnout was 15.8% as Tory candidate Angus Macpherson, a magistrate, won after a second round of voting ahead of Labour's Clare Moody.
But in parts of the county, the turnout was much lower. In Trowbridge, it was as low as 10.95% according to unofficial counting, while in Devizes it was 10.41%.
This morning Labour criticised the Government for not doing enough promote the elections.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper: "We warned the Government repeatedly that they had the wrong approach and that turnout would be low. Theresa May and David Cameron didn't listen and it is shocking that they have spent £100 million on these elections rather than on 3,000 police constables instead.
"Time and again on the doorstep people told us either they didn't have enough information, didn't know the elections were happening, didn't support them or didn't want to go out in the dark to vote."
In the most radical shake-up of the service for half a century, the new commissioners, who are expected to earn up to £100,000 a year, will control police budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire Chief Constables.
Elections are being held in 41 police areas outside London. The Electoral Reform Society predicted a turnout of 18.5%, which would be below the previous record low in a national poll in peacetime of 23% in the 1999 European elections.
The society's chief executive, Katie Ghose, said: "This election has been a comedy of errors from start to finish.
"The Home Office has operated under the assumption that 'if you build it they will come'.
"Democracy just doesn't work that way.
"There have been avoidable errors at every step, and those responsible should be held to account."
Critics claim the police reforms will lead to the politicisation of the service, with police and crime commissioners (PCCs) championing populist measures at the expense of less headline-worthy initiatives.
Although the commissioners will be there to hold the force to account, opponents fear they will attempt to interfere with day-to-day operational matters.
But supporters insist they will improve accountability among police forces and make them more aware of the priorities of local demands.
Home Secretary Theresa May argues that the commissioners will become the "voice of the people" and will be "visible, accessible and accountable".
Some 54 of the 192 candidates standing are not linked to a political party.
The turnout in Humberside, where Lord Prescott's name on the ballot paper raised the profile of the election, was 19.48%, East Riding of Yorkshire Council confirmed.
Asked if the expected low turnout would be a disaster, police and criminal justice minister Damian Green told ITV's Daybreak: "It's a new idea and as will all new ideas it will take some time to get going.
"It would be better if more people voted but I think people will get more interested, when you try something new it takes people time to get up to speed on it."
The Conservative MP added: "The measure of this policy is not the turnout, it's what the police and crime commissioners achieve over the next few years."
Labour MP Chuka Umunna described the PCC elections as absurd.
He told the programme: "The Independent Electoral Commission said that the way they (the elections) have been run has been a comedy of errors.
"It has been a total shambles and the £100 million spent on it could have been spent on 3,000 police officers.
"At least if you are going to have the elections, organise them properly and don't have them in the middle of winter."
Elections expert Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said that Wiltshire would normally be expected to be one of the areas of the country with the highest turnout.
Figures from Greater Manchester suggested the turnout in the PCC election was just 13.5%, despite the parliamentary by-election in the city, and in Bristol less than 20%, even though voters there were also electing a mayor.
"It looks pretty likely that this will be the worst turnout in any nationwide set of elections ever and therefore will raise questions about whether this whole exercise was worth it in the first place," Prof Curtice told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"The fundamental question is... what really are the significant choices that one can put before the electorate about how the job of PCC can be done? Unless there are real choices, it is very difficult to persuade voters that the election is worth voting in.
"The candidates were all saying we want more police on the beat, we want to tackle anti-social behaviour, we want the police to be more efficient. It is very difficult to find an obvious difference between them in terms of strategic direction."
The 3% of votes which were invalid in Wiltshire raised the question of whether some voters were deliberately spoiling their ballot papers to indicate their dissatisfaction with the process of electing PCCs, said Prof Curtice.
Fears of an overall low turnout were compounded as more figures came in from across the counts. In Coventry just 10.54% voted while West Yorkshire recorded 13.76% of the electorate casting a vote.
Official West Midlands figures showed turnout was 12.8% in Birmingham and 12.5% in both Walsall and Solihull, while just 12.1% of voters bothered to cast their ballots in Sandwell.