Election Countdown – Dealing with Date Uncertainty

By on 22/01/2010 in Blog, Elections, Elections 2010

voting ballot boxWith speculation continuing as to the date of the General Election, Elections Manager Robert Connelly, discusses the logistical problems the uncertaintly causes his team and how he has plans in place to ensure all runs smoothly regardless of how much notice he gets:

“Unlike a local or European election, the dates of which are fixed years in advance, the flexibility of a General Election, can create real challenges for those of us running the vote and count itself - especially if a vote where to be called at short notice.

“Until we know for certain when the vote is to be held we can only make provisional enquiries about the availability of our preferred voting stations, count centres, declaration venues and the hundreds of extra staff we draft in to count the votes.

“Polling locations are not such a problem, as mostly the council either owns the buildings we plan to use (for example schools, council offices, sports halls) or we require such a small space that we can operate alongside others using the building on the day.

“The more difficult problem, if an election is called on a day we were not expecting, can be finding somewhere to count the thousands of votes and then announce the results in front of candidates, political parties and the inevitable media scrum which will gather.

“We have plenty of provisional plans and contingencies in place, especially for the most likely dates such as May 6th - but whenever we read newspaper speculation on different dates there always follows a buzz of activity in our office as we try to find out which venues would be free- and what alternatives there are for those venues already booked up – thankfully there are no shortage of big buildings in the city!

“Of course this situation is hardly unique, in truth as an election can happen any time, any year, we constantly go through this process to some degree anyway - but with an vote now inevitable within the next five months the task becomes more real and detailed every day.

“Whatever the date finally selected, by the time voters go to the polls all this uncertainty will of course be a thing of the past and, as in previous years we'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

“But until then we, just like everyone else involved in an election, will keep scanning the newspapers every morning for more definite clues on when D-day will fall.”

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