Monday, October 19, 2009

General Election Count

After consultation with councillors and likely candidates the decision has been taken to count the votes immediately after the polls close on whichever Thursday is chosen by Gordon Brown. There had been a suggestion to count on Friday morning with some good arguments on both sides.
The huge number of postal votes now used and the fact that people can still take their postal vote to the ballot box at a polling station means that the final verification of the postal votes can't happen until after the polls close. The verification requires special equipment and it all has to be set up somewhere. There are fewer people now willing to be trained to work at the count and at all the jobs which need doing during polling day, so some people have to both work at a polling station and then at the count. That doesn't make for accurate counting which will be important if the result is a close one. Logic then seems to favour Friday, especially if lots of other places are doing it on the Friday.
BUT there's a magic about the count on the night after a hard day trying to get every single supporter out to vote. I remember waiting with bated breath outside Stockton Town Hall for the announcement of the result in the sixties and the disappointment that my favourite hadn't won, even before I could vote. Even now, when the count is so much bigger and takes so much longer there's something about going home after the campaign, freshening up and heading off to see the result unfold before our eyes.
So, I'm sympathetic to the people who have the difficult job of finding the staff to operate what could easily be a 20 hour day, especially if Stockton South ends up being a close call. I hope that they can find enough volunteers to make it a good experience for all. And I hope that those with postal votes have pity on the workforce and post them in plenty of time!
But I look forward to seeing the results unfold. I just hope the phone doesn't ring at 8 on the morning just after I've gone to sleep!

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