How not to promote democracy…

The traditional election night could come to an end because of new voting laws, the elections minister has said.

The new laws mean election officials have to check signatures and dates of birth of postal voters – something they say cannot be done in one night.

Democracy Minister Bridget Prentice said there were good arguments for delaying the counts until the next day.

There was "ongoing discussion" about the idea but candidates also had strong reasons for wanting results quickly.


Sorry, Bridget but that’s a bad idea.

Election night is part and parcel of the democratic process, one of primary means by which democracy is seen to be done by the electorate. Delaying counts until the following day and putting on the ‘election special’ on Friday afternoons, when everyone’s at work will only serve to make our democracy that little bit less visible to the electorate and feel that little bit less open, transparent and relevant.

Look Bridget, it works like this – you are member of the government, so when election officials come out with crap like this:

Malcolm Dumper, executive director of the Association of Electoral Administrators, says it will take an "inordinate amount of time" to check the signatures and dates of birth in many constituencies.

While some postal votes can be counted ahead of polling day, some people just hand in their postal ballots at traditional polling stations.

Mr Dumper says the new checks meant the prospects of a Thursday night election countdown will go "out of the window".

In Southampton, there were more than 30,000 votes – and in other areas there were many more, he said.

Your basic response should go something along the lines of, "quit whining and do your fucking job"

This whole business about "some postal votes can be counted ahead of polling day, some people just hand in their postal ballots at traditional polling stations" is complete bullshit – if someone can get their arse down to the polling station on the day to hand in their postal ballot then the lazy bastards can fucking well stand in line and vote the same way as everyone else.

Postal ballots should be reserved for people who, for whatever reason, cannot get to the polling station on the day not for those who can’t be arsed to hang around for a few minutes to get their vote recorded in the normal

Look, this is not fucking difficult to sort out – I’ll spell it out for you…

Step one – Give yourself enough time to do the job properly, which means imposing a statutory minimum period between officially calling the election and  polling day – six weeks should be more than sufficient.

Step two – Close the electoral roll and applications for postal ballots four weeks before polling day – if someone can’t be arsed to register to vote or ask for a postal vote by then, then why should we hang around for them. It’s not as if they won’t notice an election has been called, as the MSM will be talking about nothing else.

The only exception to this rule is where a postal ballot is required after that date due to unavoidable extenuating circumstances, things like hospitalisation, etc.

Step three – All postal ballots should be issued not later than two weeks before polling day, to be returned for checking not later than three days before polling day. If you can’t get your postal vote back by then, then tough shit, get down the polling station on the day itself – and two weeks is more than sufficient time to allow for the issuing for postal ballots.

Step four – Postal ballots should then be checked on the day before (and on polling day, itself) during the day. Each candidate should be allowed one observer to ensure nothing untoward takes place, and have the right to scrutinised and challenge any suspicious/rejected ballot papers – before they go on to the count.

Step five – Once postal votes have been checked, they are stored in sealed ballot boxes until the count, and counted with the rest of the ballot papers as normal.


Look, this is not difficult, in fact it’s pretty elementary project management – you have a deadline and a series of tasks that need to be completed in a particular order each of which needs a particular amount of time. so you start with the deadline and work backwards, arranging your tasks in order, at the end of which you can fucking well tell in an instant when you need to start in order to meet the deadline.

And please, do give me any of this crap about the European elections and how the count in those is delayed until sunday to fit in with everyone else – last time out the turnout was 37.6%, which shows just how much people give a shit about those elections.

And as for this…

"I know there is a group amongst the [election] administrators who would be keen for us to move all counting to the Friday," said Mrs Prentice.

"They have put up good arguments about people being fresh and having done a 15, 16-hour day at polling stations and so on.

I take it that no one amongst the election administrators have ever heard of fucking shift-work…

One thought on “How not to promote democracy…

  1. As election agent on more than a few occasions, I agree with you: if electors can be bothered to turn up at the polling station with a postal vote, they can bloody well go behind the screens and put their X on a properly-listed ballot paper and avoid the post-election scrutiny problem. Those who genuinely need a postal vote will send it in weeks or days ahead, and it can be properly checked for signature, ID etc before election day. (Postal votes are in fact double-scrutinised on election night in the event of a recount, anyway, without delaying proceedings by more than 1 hour or so – this happened in Guildford in 2005. So it may be that under exceptional circumstances the election count might need to be delayed by a day (as regularly happens in Orkney & Shetland for other reasons connected with transporting ballot papers by air in small planes and bad weather !), this should not affect most constituencies most of the time.

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