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1 The poll Who this document is for Candidates and agents who want more information on what happens at polling stations at local elections in England. The document covers who can vote at polling stations polling agents what happens inside the polling station tellers Related documents Election agents Guidance on the activities of tellers Secrecy requirements Forms Appointment of polling agent Need help? Just call us phone numbers can be found on page 8. 2 Introduction Who can vote at polling stations? Most people choose to vote in person at their polling station. Any person on the electoral register can vote at the polling station, unless: they are a registered postal voter they are a registered proxy voter and their proxy has voted for them they are not 18 years old or older on polling day Electors will receive a poll card before the election telling them where and when to vote. Electors do not need to take their poll card to the polling station in order to vote. Registered postal voters cannot be issued with a ballot paper at the polling station, but they can return their completed postal ballot pack to their polling station on polling day. Alternatively, they may return their postal vote to other polling stations in the local authority. The elections office will be able to provide details. Polling station opening hours For the elections on 5 May 2011, polling stations will be open on that day between 7am and 10pm. Finding the location of polling stations For the elections on 5 May 2011, Returning Officers will give public notice of the location of polling stations by Friday 8 April 2011. They will give a copy of this notice to election agents soon after this. Election processes at a local government election in England 3 Polling agents Candidates can appoint agents to observe proceedings inside polling stations. What does a polling agent do? Polling agents have a number of important roles to play on polling day. They can: A polling agent is entitled to inspect be present in the polling station before the opening of the various aspects of the poll to watch the Presiding Officer show the empty ballot box polling procedure, but the procedure is not before it is sealed invalidated if they have not witnessed it. detect personation and prevent people voting more than once in the election report to the election agent any improper activities and keep Personation is when an notes, if required, for giving evidence in court individual votes as someone else (whether that person is living or be present when the Presiding Officer marks a ballot paper dead, or is a fictitious at the request of an elector person) be present at the close of poll when the various packets of documents are sealed attach their seal to any packets made up by the Presiding Officer at the close of poll, including the ballot box cannot be attached to ballot boxes at the start of or during the Who can be a polling agent? poll. Anyone, apart from officials employed by the Returning Officer, can be appointed as a polling agent. An election agent can themselves act as a polling agent. A person can be appointed as a polling agent and an agent to attend other proceedings, ie the opening of postal votes or the count. For more information on those, please see the relevant guidance documents on our website. Need help? Just call us phone numbers can be found on page 8. 4 How to appoint polling agents The request to appoint polling 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 polling agents can be appointed? The election agent can appoint any number of polling agents to attend each polling station. Any agent can be appointed to attend more than one polling station, but only one polling agent for each candidate can be present in a polling station at any time. Secrecy of the ballot Agents have a duty to maintain the secrecy of the ballot. In particular, polling agents must not give information to anyone as to: who has or has not voted the official mark on the ballot paper For more information A polling agent can mark off on their copy of the register of see: electors those voters who have applied for ballot papers. If the polling agent leaves the polling station during the hours of Secrecy polling, they must leave the marked copy of the register in the requirements polling station to ensure that secrecy requirements are not breached. Any person found guilty of breaching the secrecy requirements can face a fine of up to £5,000, or may be imprisoned for up to six months. Election processes at a local government election in England 5 Inside the polling station What is the normal voting process? The normal voting process at a polling station is straightforward and can be summarised as follows: On 5 May 2011, the local election may be combined with ask voters to confirm their name and address, and make another election or sure they are eligible to vote referendum. In that case, polling station staff will be issuing on the the required number register of electors of additional ballot papers. call out the number and name of the elector Different electoral write the elector number on the corresponding number list events may have next to the number of the ballot paper(s) to be issued different franchise requirements, so sometimes an ensure the ballot paper(s) include the official mark (e.g. a elector will not be barcode or watermark) entitled to vote at all of the polls taking fold the ballot paper(s) then hand them to the voter place. unfolded so they can see all of the options on the ballot paper(s) Also, a single ballot box may be used for all of the contests or one ballot box may be used for each separate contest. mark the ballot paper(s) in private in the polling booth fold the ballot paper(s) and show the ballot paper number and unique identifying mark on the back of the ballot paper(s) to the Presiding Officer place the ballot paper(s) in the ballot box(es) Need help? Just call us phone numbers can be found on page 8. 6 Assistance is available for anyone who cannot mark the ballot paper themselves. Collection of postal ballots from the polling station The Returning Officer may arrange for the collection of any postal votes that electors have handed in at polling stations. The Presiding Officer must seal any postal votes in a packet before they are collected. Any agents present can add their own seal to the packet if they wish. What happens after polls close? The ballot boxes are sealed and the election and polling agents can add their own seal if they wish. Election processes at a local government election in England 7 Tellers What is the role of tellers? Tellers are the people who stand outside polling places and record the electoral numbers of electors who have voted. The Returning Officer They can then identify likely supporters who have not voted and is in charge of the encourage them to vote before the close of poll. conduct of the election. If they are concerned by the Tellers have no legal status and voters do have the right to activities of tellers, refuse to give information to them. they can ask tellers to comply with agreed We have produced a , as well behaviour or leave the polling place. as more comprehensive guidance on the activities of tellers. The guidance aims to ensure that everyone knows precisely what is and what is not acceptable and to promote appropriate standards of conduct. Need help? Just call us phone numbers can be found on page 8. 8 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. London Tel: 020 7271 0689 Fax: 020 7271 0505 email@example.com Eastern and South East Tel: 020 7271 0600 Fax:020 7271 0505 firstname.lastname@example.org Midlands Tel: 02476 820086 Fax: 02476 820001 email@example.com North of England Tel: 01904 567990 Fax: 01904 567719 firstname.lastname@example.org South West Tel: 01392 314617 Fax: 01392 314001 email@example.com Election processes at a local government election in England 9 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 Commission: Tel: 020 7271 0500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Need help? Just call us phone numbers can be found on page 8.
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