Thousands stayed at home on polling day

PUBLISHED: 17:22 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 23:39 15 June 2010

VOTERS stayed at home en-masse last Thursday, despite electing the Conservatives to run Devon County Council for the first time in two decades.

VOTERS stayed at home en-masse last Thursday, despite electing the Conservatives to run Devon County Council for the first time in two decades.The Tories won an overwhelming majority, 41 of the 62 seats, turning a Lib Dem majority of four into a majority of 21 - with both the Green party and UKIP beating Labour in the percentage vote.But hopes that the Westminster expenses scandal would not affect the outcome of elections in Britain's third largest county came to nothing when just 255,000 residents cast their vote out of 580,865 - a low 43.9 per cent turnout. This is a massive drop from the county poll four years ago when a smaller electorate of 563,320 saw a bigger turnout, 381,918 votes, a 67.8 per cent turnout. This time, 41.9 per cent of the votes went to the Conservatives, 29.9 per cent to the Liberal Democrats, and 6.1 per cent to Labour. Of the smaller parties, the UK Independence Party polled nine per cent and 4.6 per cent went to Independent candidates.The Liberal Democrats won 14 seats, Labour retained four, and two seats were taken by Independent candidates.And in a quirk of the first past the post voting system, the Green Party polled a higher 'popular' vote than Labour with 6.8 per cent.Lib Dem councillor for Exmouth Eileen Wragg said: "Knocking on doors and trying to get the vote out was really difficult. People were furious, really angry about the expenses scandal.

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