Since the authority's creation in April 1974 the district has elected councillors by the 'Thirds' principle - that is to say that every year an election is held for one third of the seats on the council and in the fourth year an election takes place for Lincolnshire County Council. Councillors are elected to serve a four year term of office.
Across the non-metropolitan district councils (both in single-tier and two-tier areas) in England twenty-four percent of the wards are single-member wards, forty percent are two-member wards and thirty-six percent represent three-member wards. (Following the creation of a unitary authority in Central Bedfordshire there will be six four-member wards for a transitional period between 2009 and 2011.) As a general rule a two-member ward contains around twice as many electors as a single-member ward and a three-member ward contains three times as many electors as a single-member ward.
As of yesterday's meeting elections for all councillors will take place once every four years - with the first whole council election on Thursday, 5th May 2011.
- A Council has a clear mandate from the electorate for four years.
- An elector can vote for the whole Council as well as a Councillor. It creates greater stability over the four year period with no chance (subject to by-elections) of a change in political control.
- Greater propensity for change in political control.
- It avoids a situation where political control of the Council can change in election by thirds when some electors in single member wards have no opportunity to vote.
- All electors get an equal opportunity to vote and vote together (currently some only vote once or twice in the three yearly cycle if they live in a one or two member Ward).
- Greater publicity for whole Council election may generate higher turnout.
- Evidence suggests that there is slightly higher turn out in whole Council elections
- Evidence suggests that electorate associates more clearly with whole Council elections.
- There is likely to be reduced expenditure for the Council because of running fewer elections.
- Correspondingly a reduced expenditure by political parties because of fewer elections.
- Less campaigning needed by parties.