Thursday, April 10, 2008

The mechanics (and electronics) of voting

There was a meeting of election agents last night at Lambeth (formerly Brixton) Town Hall to learn about the mechanics of the election. Each voter will get 3 ballot papers: a yellow one for the mayor, a peach one for the party lists, and a pink one for the constituency vote. So we'll be on the pink 'un. The organisers are anxious to avoid the fiasco of the last Scottish Parliament elections where voters were also faced with three ballot papers and when there were tens of thousands of rejected votes (and there are more electors in London than in Scotland). Whether they will succeed remains to be seen, especially as for the mayor you can vote 1, 2 whereas for the other two you just put one X.
Party tellers at polling stations are now entitled to harrass you for your electoral number before you go in to vote (rather than only after you come out, as up to now). They are being asked to be polite but there's nothing in the rules banning voters from being rude to them.
The count (for Lambeth and Southwark and 5 other constituencies) will take place in Olympia in West London on Friday 2 May. It is going to be done electronically (which means that, if it breaks down, the count could last as long as it has in Zimbabwe). The ballot papers will go into a scanner and then be shown on a screen. Spoiled and unclear votes will show up and be set aside for adjudication, as now, by the Returning Officer after discussion amongst the candidates' election agents.
If we come within 500 votes of 5 percent of the votes cast we will be entitled to demand a recount to try to get our £1000 deposit back. Which would delay the result by another 8 hours.


James Hatts said...

So is it going to be a daytime count then?

Londonsocialist said...

Yes, starting at 8.30 on the Friday (a security firm will be guarding the ballot boxes overnight). We were told the result for the constituency could be out by about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. The results for the mayor and the Party lists is not the responsibility of the local Returning Officer, but we were told (this being the era of news management) that the idea was to get them out in time for the 6 o'clock news.