A Conversation for DEVON'S NEW FLAG

Devon Flag Vote

Post 21


Cheers to everyone who voted and submitted designs it's all been fun and maybe one day we'll have an "official" and closer regulated vote/competition.
In the end its not really who wins that means the most important but the fact that we've widened peoples knowledge of our county and its history, eveyrone counts.
thanks again.

Devon Flag Vote

Post 22

Ozzie Exile

Can someone explain what happened?

Not having checked the vote for 24 hours or so I went to do so today,
and find the vote closed in apparent acrimonious circumstances.

Plymouth Exile has indicated that there may have been irregularities
in the voting, and I certainly agree that from time to time there
appeared to be 'block' voting (whether from multiple PCs or from a
group of people in concert I don't know)

However I do not know if that significantly effected the vote - after all we had more than 300 responses (as best as I can tell).

Is there a way of summarising what happened, and if block 'cheating'
happened can the more obvious elements be eliminated?

Flag #6 seemed to be the clear leader throughout the campaign (and
no its not one of mine) so if something extraordinary happened in the
last 24 hours can we take the position then as being reasonably

According to my calcs (and this shows my weakness for statistics)
the most recent vote was

Flag 1 16.3% (~55)
Flag 2 17.2% (~56)
Flag 3 5.2% (~17)
Flag 4 2.6% (~9)
Flag 5 0.3% (1?)
Flag 6 20.7% (~69)
Flag 7 5.0% (~17)
Flag 8 1.7% (~6)
Flag 9 4.4% (~15)
Flag 10 1.7% (~6)
Flag 11 12.5% (~42)
Flag 12 12.2% (~41)

I didn't see the final result, although perhaps if 'funny things happened' that would be irrelevant anyway.

Is the suggestion that the above vote is grossly inaccurate?
If so - I didn't see it (overall) although as I said - there were one or two odd movements.

Devon Flag Vote

Post 23

Ozzie Exile

Okay - I have now seen the final results

Yes there does seem to have been some last minute swings - and a flurry of votes - 395 in total????? I presume the last minute rush (and claimed irregularity??) was pretty much toward Flag #2?????

However Flag #6 was still [just] ahead (as it has been all along).
Assuming the voting anomalies' were in respect to the last minute
swing I don't believe that invalidates the general result (does it???).

Well done Devonian!!!

After all we did get hundereds of votes - and surely the overall result is reasonably indicate (ie few liked my designs!!)

Personally I would still be happy to go with #6 - at least as a starting point for further discussion. Your thoughts????

BBC Devon don't seem to be showing an easy link to the flag results.
Is this just a timing issue or has the whole show gone off the road??

Devon Flag Vote

Post 24

Plymouth Exile


This is obviously some new definition of the word "fun" of which I was previously unaware, and would certainly not get you a pass grade in a University Use of English exam.

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Vote

Post 25

Plymouth Exile

Dear Ozzie Exile,

Concerning the Devon Flag design poll, the voting pattern rapidly became a fiasco. I was a bit suspicious when voting first started, as within the first few hours, flags 2 and 6 seemed to attract relatively large numbers of votes before any of the others got going. Although flag 6 is a very similar design to flags 8 and 9, neither of the latter designs seemed to be picking up many votes (rather odd in the circumstances). I then noted that flags 2 and 6 were designs from the same person. I originally put this down to family loyalty, and within a day or two, flags 1, 11 and 12 started to pick up votes. However, when any of these designs started to challenge for the lead, flags 2 and 6 suddenly jumped a few percentage points, apparently to ensure that they stayed in the lead. I came to this conclusion, because before anyone cast their vote, they were unable to observe the result so far. Therefore, the chances of natural blocks of voting occurring (without knowledge of the current result), just as the current leaders were being caught, would have been infinitesimally small, yet they seemed to be occurring regularly.

After the first week of voting, I noted that flag 1 was gradually pulling slightly clear of flags 11 and 12, but each time it got anywhere near flag 2, another surge in voting for flags 2 and 6 occurred (especially the latter). Eventually, flag 1 eased slightly ahead of flag 2 but was still well behind flag 6. Then in the last 24 hours, flag 2 suddenly jumped by about 4 percentage points to be almost level with flag 6. To give some idea of the number of votes this must have represented, flag 1 dropped by about 5 percentage points at the same time. Anyone who knows anything about voting patterns would regard this one as extremely suspicious. Gradual upward trends in votes cast are usually indicative of a normal voting pattern, but when significant step trends become recurrent, then voting abnormalities are strongly indicated, and when such trends only occur in the voting patterns for two designs, which happen to be from the same source, then I suggest that credulity is stretched beyond any reasonable limit. Add to this the final result, that those two designs end up with almost the same number of total votes (following the final large step for flag 2), then I would contend that only one conclusion can be reached. That was the final straw, which prompted me to E-Mail the Devon Editor.

One may ask how this can be done. Unfortunately, the answer is, quite easily, either by clearing out cookies (which prevent multiple voting from the same PC), which is a simple option from the Windows control panel, or by using different PCs (very easy for anyone who has access to many PCs at a large company or a university).

I had hoped that the people of Devon would have been given the chance to express their choice in a fair and free manner, but I fear that this was not to be the case on this occasion.

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Vote

Post 26

Big JG - Landlord of The Editor's Arms

Oh dear, what a shame this has all become so controversial.

As with any vote, unless you're checked off the electoral register as you enter the polling station, there is no way you can ensure only one vote per person....

Telephone polls on TV shows like "I'm a Celebrity, get me out of here" or "Pop Idol" have people phoning in over and over again.

There is no evidence to suggest that anything out of order has gone on with this vote. Indeed there were no rules. It was, after all, simply a bit of fun. It has, though, served to bring your suggestion of a Devon flag to a much wider audience with our local radio colleagues getting involved.

In the past we've run other such fun votes. A "Battle of the Bands during Music Live saw the winners have a runaway victory because - as they told us after - they had cajoled all their friends and family into supporting, and voting for, them.

All our online votes carry a discalaimer saying they are just for fun and that results do not purport to represent public opinion as a whole.

The topic of a flag for Devon is now being discussed in offices at Devon County Council and at South West Tourism. This is as a direct result of your fantastic contributions. It may come to nothing at all but it has, at least, started a thought process.

Almost 400 votes! What a great figure to achieve and I think that everyone who took part should be proud that it provoked such a response. (The results are linked from the devon flag page A791949 if you haven't already seen them.)

There are no plans to have the winning design made up. There was no prize offered. Congratulations to the winner.

It's all a bit of fun.

Now who's for a drink at The Editor's Arms? (A716456)

smiley - cheers

PS - the next fun vote will be whether the school terms should alter...

Drink at Editor's Arms

Post 27

Plymouth Exile

Hi Big J.G.

Please send technical instructions on how I can E-Mail myself to the Editor's Arms for that drink you offered to buy.

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Designs

Post 28

Plymouth Exile

While we await any further explanation of the apparent block voting, there are one or two points, which need addressing. Two of the flag designs submitted, numbers 2 and 12, contain the Coat of Arms. I have only seen the Coat of Arms displayed in association with Devon County Council (it certainly appears on their Web Site). Does anyone know if the Council has proprietary rights to this Coat of Arms? If it does, then it probably cannot be used in a Devon Flag, unless it is specifically a Devon County Council Flag. This in turn would mean that it would not be applicable to the whole of Devon, as both Plymouth and Torbay are Unitary Authorities and do not come under the remit of Devon CC. In the case of Flag 11, it could easily be modified, by substituting the Devon Shield for the Coat of Arms, but doing the same for Flag 2 would just turn it into Flag 3. I am fairly certain that the Shield is not a restricted device, as I have seen it used in many diverse applications. Can anyone throw any light on this matter?

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Designs

Post 29


Plymouth exile,
I can assure you that i personally did not use multiple PC's or vote over and over again. I did however make my friends aware of the vote but i cant explain any of the votes that design 2 recieved, as most of the people i've spoken to didnt really like it and chose to vote for 6 instead.
Either way if it really means that much to you then i would be very willing to accept your celtic cross design as the "winner".

Devon Flag Designs

Post 30

Plymouth Exile

Devonian et al,

I am glad to hear that you (Devonian) were not personally responsible for the absurd voting pattern. Either you have an enormous number of friends, or at least one of them was indulging in some unethical voting practices. Judging by how the votes for Flags 2 and 6 went up in large steps, I would guess it was the latter. I certainly don't want my design declared the winner (that would be equally unfair), but we need to do something to pick up the pieces.

In response to my post about the use of the Devon Coat of Arms, the Devon Editor has now confirmed my suspicion that it is specific to Devon County Council (granted to them by the King in 1926), so is not applicable to the whole of Devon. Therefore, I would ask Devonian if he would be prepared to withdraw Flag 2, as modifying it to include the Shield, would only turn it into Flag 3 (which I will withdraw, as it didn't attract that many votes anyway). However, Flag 11 from Barumite (a unique and attractive design) did attract a significant number of votes, but also has the Coat of Arms in it. I personally would be loathe to eliminate it just because of the Coat of Arms, so how about if we ask the Devon Editor to contact Barumite to see if he would be prepared to modify it, to replace the Coat of Arms with some other device (e.g. the Shield - in which case, I could modify it for him)? I would propose that we make use of the poll results to reduce the number of designs to a short list of four, i.e. 1, 6, 11 (suitably modified) and 12, as none of the others (apart from Flag 2) managed to reach 5% of the vote. What are your thoughts on this as a way forward, or does anyone have any other ideas?

We would, of course, then need some (relatively tamper proof) way for the people of Devon to cast their votes, such as a voting slip, which could be cut out of a newspaper (no photocopies allowed). Are there any newspapers with a circulation throughout Devon, or with a special Devon Edition, who's Editor(s) may be prepared to help in this respect? Once we have a chosen design, the BBC Devon (On-Line) Editor has said that he could give us some pointers regarding getting flags made.

Any thoughts anyone?

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Designs

Post 31


I have just caught up with recent developments. Shame about the voting 'irregularities' (and no - it wasn't me - my design came a disappointing sixth).

As Plymouth Exile said - it is now a matter of picking up the pieces.

Votes such as this are never 'foolproof' - and in BBC Devon's defence they never held out that it would be anything other than 'fun' nor that the poll would be foolproof. My thanks to them for giving us the opportunity.

Such informal votes are often impacted by multiple voting etc.. - and many such polls don't have the safeguards that the BBC Devon vote had. At least there was some deterrent to stop repeat voting even if there were ways around it.

The only problem is that a number of us were hoping the result would be 100% representative.

Whoever did 'interfere' should have realised that they were hampering the campaign rather than helping it.

And perhaps at the end of the day the result may have been reasonably indicative - despite the last minute shenanigans - we will never be 100% sure .

However lets look at the positives.

We have learnt some things - I certainly think that I can now safely retire my design into the 'reject' folder.

Looking at the exercise overall there are a large number of positives.
A dozen designs, hundreds of votes, and good media coverage!!! Not bad.

How many flags now in existence have been subject to a 'popular vote'. None that I know of! The Cornish St Piran's flag - not!

Okay - so where to from here.

There are a number of options.

1 The only 100% gurantee (?) of a untampered vote would be to have a formal poll. Perhaps an separate ballot paper tied to the next county council (and plymouth/torbay council) election. However this would cost money but may be worth asking for anyway, or perhaps....

2 Get Devon County Council or others (the CEO of the SW tourism board that they had on the radio?) to give an 'expert judgement'
to indicate a preferred design (this is not democratic either, but may be a nice thing to have), and/or

3 We try to register design 6 along with the best of the runners up (designs 1, 11 and 12?). Registration (if that is what you do with a flag design) may produce some hurdles which we don't know about and therefore may assist with selection, and/or

4 We go ahead produce some 'marketing collateral'. I still like the idea of bumper stickers, but perhaps the material can have more than 1 design on it. Perhaps it could be labelled 'The Devon Flag competition' or something - and have the top few designs. Alternately perhaps people can 'buy' their favourite from a range of the top four(?) designs as a bumper sticker. This would be a different sort of poll as money will limit any 'multiple votes'.

Without knowing the costing - in principle I would be willing to chip in some money here - bumper stickers?? t-shirts?? - any other takers??

Devon Flag Designs

Post 32

Ozzie Exile

It is good to read that the discussion has 'moved on' from the recent controversy.

I think Plymouth Exile's suggestions are essentially sound.

The vote was never representative, but despite the suggestion of foul play, should have been fairly indicative.

If we cut back the number of designs to (say) four, being #1 #6, #11 and #12 we could then we could promote a campaign via a newspaper.

Possibly the WMN, or perhaps other local papers from that stable? (eg The Herald in Plymouth)

Although a peper based poll would reduce multiple voting - it won't be foolproof. Libraries and offices etc.. may have multiple copies delivered and one person could complete a number of votes at little expense. Also - how do we limit the vote to Devonians? I presume we should??

Alternatively, there is (what they call in Australia) a plebecite - where a 'representative' group are selected, who then get together and decide on a preferred design. Who does the selecting - I would suggest the local councils - who are themselves elected bodies.

Devon Flag Designs

Post 33


Whilst I note the frustration some have following the BBC Devon poll, I am not convinced that we are going to do better elsewhere.

The number of votes surprised me (395!) and even if there was some duplication the number of participants must still be in the hundreds.

I would be happy to participate in a 'next stage' if there is one (newspaper etc...), although my design was not a front runner, but I am not convinced it will achieve much (more).

Would I conribute towards bumper stickers or t-shirts?
Yes (perhaps), but we need an understanding on the 'what', and perhaps (if a 'next stage' is needed first) the 'when'.

Has anyone contacted the Western Morning News/Evening Herald/Thisisplymouth group yet, to see if there is any interest?

Devon Flag Designs

Post 34

Plymouth Exile


Although there were 395 votes, I suspect that the block voting for Flags 2 & 6 could have accounted for over 100 of these.

I have E-Mailed the BBC Devon Editor and asked if he could contact Barumite (the Flag 11 designer) to see if he would be prepared to change the Coat of Arms in his Flag to the Devon Shield (which is more representative of the whole County, and not just Devon CC). He has replied that he will try to get Barumite to E-Mail me direct. When we resolve this one, we could then contact newspapers. Does the WMN/EH cover the whole of Devon? I thought it was just the Plymouth area.

Another option is to get a body such as Devon Tourism to decide on the best design (thus avoiding another vote). Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Designs

Post 35

Devon Editor

Hi all. I have now contacted Barumite by e-mail and suggested that he rejoins the debate following suggestions that amendments may considered to his flag design. I have also passed on Plymouth Exile's personnal e-mail address (with his permission) in case Barumite prefers to contact someone in person. Cheers.

Devon Flag Designs

Post 36


Plymouth Exile,

The Western Morning News covers the whole of Devon and Cornwall and the western parts of Somerset and Dorset. It is produced at a number of sites around Devon and Cornwall, so we may be able to focus a campaign to certain editions.

The same group who produce the WMN also produce

The Evening Herald - this is the Plymouth based paper.

The Express and Echo - this is an Exeter based evening newspaper.

The Herald Express - a Torquay based evening newspaper.

There is also a weekly north Devon newspaper (North Devon Journal)

The same group also produce some Cornish newspapers - the Cornishman, the West Briton, and the Cornish Guardian.

So - given the good coverage this might be the place to start if we go for a newspaper 'next stage'.

As to getting Devon Tourism involved - I think that is a good idea.
Also, the head honcho of South West Tourism was part of the BBC Devon Radio broadcast and was very supportive - I think he was called Malcolm Bell.

As to the BBC Devon votes - I would be surprised if the irregularities came to the hundred votes you suggest - but I wasn't tracking it very closely.

I gather that you are not happy about running with Devonian's design on the basis that the voting was not 'above board'? If it was easy to correct I would say do it.

However to look at it another way - I think that design is not too bad and I would rather see that design adopted than see the whole subject 'flounder'.

Mind you - my design would not have won anyway, so I have less blood in this one. (Actually I was very pleased to see my design got 40+ votes - as I had only 'roughed it up' quickly)

Anything I can do to help? (Except TV - I must say I wasn't happy to do that)

Devon Flag Designs

Post 37

Plymouth Exile

I have conversed with Barumite, who is quite happy about having the Devon Shield replace the Coat of Arms on his design (Flag 11). He sent me a tidied up version, which I have now placed the Shield on and E-Mailed it to the Devon Editor. Hopefully, you may all be able to see it soon. I think it looks very good.

I reckon we should either try to get a poll in the Western Morning News (Devon Editions), or get some sort of judgement from Devon Tourism. Devonian, Ozzie Exile, Kerswell, Coref, Barumite et al., what do you think?

Plymouth Exile

Devon Flag Designs

Post 38


Plymouth Exile

Okay by me!

Devon Flag Designs

Post 39

Ozzie Exile

I am happy that we move toward a newspaper based vote.

The 'judgement' of Devon Tourism would be interesting, but at the end of the day that is only likely to be one person's view - influencial perhaps, but hardly democratic.

Perhaps Devon Tourism can provide their input and advise the best way to proceed (eg how many designs, which media, whether to involve the councils etc..), but I am not sure they should be the absolute judges.

For example - if they picked Barumite's design (and this is just an example - I quite like that design) - would everybody be happy that 'that was it'? particularly given that we had a competition where a couple of other designs polled as well as or better!

Devon Flag Designs

Post 40


Plymouth Exile

Not very helpful last night was I!

What I meant to say was that I am happy to have a newspaper 'vote', and I would be happy to ask Devon Tourism for their view.

However with the latter, I would need to consider the quality of their comments before I would accept their judgement as final.

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