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Why this Greater Manchester Mayoral election will be very different to the first two

A major change has been made to Greater Manchester’s mayoral election.

Andy Burnham is standing for a third term on May 2, and he is known to have five challengers as of Tuesday (April 2), with the deadline for nominations being Friday (April 5). On the ballot currently are Laura Evans (Conservatives), Jake Austin (Liberal Democrats), Hannah Spencer (Green Party), Dan Barker (Reform UK), and Nick Buckley (Independent).

Mr Burnham has been the city-region’s mayor since 2017, winning elections that year and in 2021. However, those elections were run differently to the 2024 contest.

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The first polls used the supplementary vote (SV) system, which saw the electorate put two crosses on their ballot paper. They were to select a first-preference and second-preference candidate.

In SV, if no one secured more than 50 percent of the first-preference votes, then the top two candidates go into a run-off election. This head-to-head poll sees second-preference votes come into play.

There, all of the second-preference votes from the candidates who were eliminated are counted. Then, the winner of the election is the politician from the run-off with the most first and second preference votes.

Proponents of SV say it encourages politicians to appeal to a wider group of voters, so they hold broader appeal across a city, constituency, or ward. Opponents claim that it does not guarantee a candidate gets a majority of support, and also leads to voters second-guessing who might reach the run-off.

In Greater Manchester, the system was never used to its full potential as Andy Burnham claimed victory on first-choice votes alone. In 2017, he secured 63.4