Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has accused the Government of running a shambolic information campaign in the run-up to the first elections for police and crime commissioners.
Ms Cooper said people were saying they did not know anything about Thursday's polls for the commissioners in 41 police areas in England and Wales. She added that the timing of the elections in November during dark and cold weather, rather than in May, would make it harder for people to vote.
"The Government, as well as choosing to have the elections in November when they could have waited until May, have simply not provided people with proper information," she told ITV's Daybreak.
"So when we are going around the streets talking to people, lots of people are saying, 'I just don't know what this is or what it is about'. They even set up a helpline that supposedly you could ring up and get information from, but that has not been working. So it has been a bit of a shambles."
Ms Cooper repeated calls for voters to use the elections to "send a message" to the Government about public discontent with cuts to officers on the front line.
"We have strong candidates across the country and I hope that this is the opportunity for people to send a message to the Government that they are wrong to cut 15,000 police officers across the country," she said.
"This is an opportunity to vote to send that message to the Government so that the commissioners can be knocking on the Home Secretary's door and saying 'think again'."
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said the commissioners would have a "really important" role and the Government had wanted to get the elections under way as quickly as possible.
"I think it is really important that people know a figurehead, a name of a person that they can turn to when they are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour in their area. They want to know why the police are costing money on their council tax bill," he said. "This is somebody who will be directly accountable to them for the very first time."
He added: "I'm sorry to hear that Yvette Cooper's side haven't been putting out the information. We have certainly been trying to get leaflets out, newspapers out, on our side, we have delivered millions of newspapers and leaflets and of course all the information is available online."