The count by dfgh4bnmu


The count
Who this document is for
Candidates and agents in England who want more
information about what to expect at a local government
election count.

The document covers

   counting agents
   the count process
   what happens after the declaration of results

Related documents
   Election agents
   Secrecy requirements

   Form for appointing counting agents

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    Counting agents
    Candidates can appoint agents to observe proceedings at the

    What does a counting agent do?
    Counting agents have a number of important roles to play at the

        They observe the counting process and make sure that it is
         orderly and accurate

        They can draw to the attention of count staff any doubtful
         ballot papers

        If they disagree with a decision by the Returning Officer to
         reject a ballot paper, the counting agent can ask the
         Returning Officer to mark

        If a count is suspended for any reason, counting agents can
         add their seals when the Returning Officer seals the ballot
         boxes and envelopes

    Who can be a counting agent?
    Anyone, apart from officials employed by the Returning Officer,
    can be appointed as a counting agent. An election agent can act
    as a counting agent themselves.

    A person can be appointed as a counting agent and an agent to
    attend other proceedings, such as the poll or the opening of
    postal votes. For more information on those, please see the
    relevant guidance documents on our website.

    Election processes at a local government election in England
How to appoint counting agents
The request to appoint counting agents must be made in writing
to the Returning Officer. It must contain the names and
addresses of the people being appointed. For the elections on 5
May 2011, the request must be submitted to the Returning
Officer no later than Tuesday 26 April 2011.

The Returning Officer will provide a form for this, or you can find
one on the                         .

How many counting agents can be appointed?
The Returning Officer will tell you the number of counting agents
you can appoint. All candidates will be allowed to appoint exactly
the same number of counting agents.                                   This calculation
                                                                      ensures that every
The minimum number of counting agents per candidate is                counting assistant will
calculated by dividing the number of counting assistants              be observed by at
employed at the count by the total number of candidates.              least one counting
                                                                      agent, irrespective of
                                                                      which candidate they
When and where does the count take place?                             are acting for.

The Returning Officer will notify counting agents of the exact time
and location. For the elections on 5 May 2011, this will be soon
after Tuesday 26 April 2011.

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    What happens after ballot boxes
    are delivered?
                                                                       Where the election
         Check-in                                                      has been combined
                                                                       with another election
                                                                       or referendum, all
     1      The Returning Officer s staff deliver the ballot box(es)
                 from the polling station to the count venue
                                                                       ballot boxes will be
                                                                       verified before any
                                                                       results are declared.

     2                  they arrive at the count venue                 There may be a single
                                                                       ballot box for all
                                                                       elections or separate
                                                                       boxes for each. In any
                                                                       case, ballot papers
                                                                       will be sorted into the
         Verification                                                  separate contests.
            Ballot boxes are emptied onto tables and the empty
     3                  boxes are shown to agents                      Any ballot paper
                                                                       ballot box is still valid
            Staff count the ballot papers from each polling station    and will be moved to
     4                                                                 the correct box during
            Staff check that the number of ballot papers matches
     5        the number of papers issued, as recorded on the

     6       The numbers of verified ballot papers are shown to
                      election and counting agents
                                                                       Sometimes there may
                                                                       be a small
                                                                       discrepancy between
                                                                       the number of ballot
            The Returning Officer determines the reasons for any
     7         discrepancy and produces a final verified total
                                                                       papers counted and
                                                                       the number expected.
                                                                       This may be due to a
                                                                       small error on the
                                                                       ballot paper account
             The Returning Officer produces a statement of the
     8      verification. Agents can view or copy this statement if
                                                                       or due to a voter not
                                                                       placing their ballot
                                   they wish                           paper in the ballot box

    Election processes at a local government election in England
                                                                         If the count does not
        Counting of votes                                                take place
                                                                         immediately following
    9             Staff sort ballot papers by candidate                  verification, the
                                                                         verified boxes will be
                                                                         stored securely.
                                                                         Candidates and
10       Staff count the number of votes cast for each candidate
                                                                         agents can attach
                                                                         their seals to boxes if
                                                                         they wish.

What if the vote on a ballot paper is not clear?
A ballot paper will not be counted if it:

   is unmarked
   does not contain the official mark
   contains votes for more candidates than the number of
   contains any mark that may identify the voter
                                                    .

The Returning Officer must draw up a statement showing the
number of ballot papers rejected for these reasons.

If the                          on a ballot paper, it will not be void
if a vote is marked:

   elsewhere than in the proper place
   by other means than a cross (e.g. a tick)
   by more than one mark

The Returning Officer must write
ballot paper that is rejected. They
             if a counting agent objects to the Returning Officer

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6         Recounts

             The candidate or election agents can ask the Returning
     11                   Officer to recount the votes

     12      The Returning Officer can refuse to recount if they think
                          the request is unreasonable

    If two or more candidates have the same number of votes, and a          The Returning Officer
    further vote for either would see the candidate elected, the            will decide the method
    Returning Officer must decide between them by drawing lots.             of drawing lots.

           Declaration of results

    13       The Returning Officer will declare elected the candidate
             (or candidates in the case of a multi-seat vacancy) with
                                  the most votes

    14       The Returning Officer will give public notice of the result.   Some Returning
                                                                            Officers allow
                                                                            candidates to make
                                                                            speeches after the
                                                                            result is declared.
             The Returning Officer will publish a notice with the name
    15        of each candidate elected, the number of votes for all
                                                                            Please check
                                                                            arrangements with
              candidates, and the number of rejected ballot papers.         your Returning

    Election processes at a local government election in England
What happens to the paperwork after the result
is announced?
The Returning Officer must seal up all election documentation         For details of what
and add a description of the contents of each packet and              happens after the
forward them on to the Electoral Registration Officer.                result has been
                                                                      announced see:
All documents are retained by the Electoral Registration Officer
for one year and most are available for public inspection during       After the
this time. However, ballot papers are one of the documents not          declaration of
                                                                        result [link].
open to public inspection.

The marked register of electors and absent voters list are
available on written request from the Electoral Registration
Officer after the election. These documents show who has been
issued with a ballot paper in a polling station and who has
returned their postal ballot paper, or who has had their proxy
vote on their behalf. Contact details for Electoral Registration
                                               About My Vote

The documents can be inspected under supervision free of
charge and handwritten notes can be taken.

In addition, the marked register of electors and absent voters list
can be supplied to referendum agents for a fee of £10 plus £2
for printed and £1 for data versions per 1,000 entries.

After 12 months these documents must be destroyed, unless a
court order directs otherwise.

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    How we can help
    You can view our full range of guidance and up-to-date
    resources on our website.
    If it's easier, you can also call your local Commission office or
    email us. We are here to help, so please get in touch.

    Tel: 020 7271 0689
    Fax: 020 7271 0505

    Eastern and South East
    Tel: 020 7271 0600
    Fax:020 7271 0505

    Tel: 02476 820086
    Fax: 02476 820001

    North of England
    Tel: 01904 567990
    Fax: 01904 567719

    South West
    Tel: 01392 314617
    Fax: 01392 314001

    Election processes at a local government election in England

Translations and other formats
For information on obtaining this publication in another language
or in a large-print or Braille version please contact the Electoral

Tel: 020 7271 0500


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