My Night at the General Election Count

All Hull City Council employees got an email a couple of weeks ago asking if they wanted to be an election assistant, and I'd always wanted to do a count so I jumped at the chance!

I had expected a chunk of expenses to come through this month, but they will be coming in in January instead, so I am a bit short on Christmas cash - and at £15 an hour I thought the election was a good money making opportunity for me!

I've always been really interested in politics and wanted to be part of the action. I wasn't really sure what to expect at all or how the night would go.

Sugar to get me through the night!

Here's what I learnt!

- You arrive at 9.15pm and the count starts with postal votes at 10pm, then at 10.15pm our polling booth votes came in. You count all the voting slips to ensure they match the numbers given by the polling station, checked by the person next to you, then after they've all been verified you start to count the individual parties. This didn't happen until after 1am for us.

- A man from Labour stood over our counting station at all times ensuring we were doing it right! All the candidates from the different parties came round to see how it was going, but you soon forgot they were there when you got into counting.

- You have lots of sweets on the table behind you to get you through the night - I had some Oreos and Lucozade to keep me going too!

- Once you get into counting it is really easy. I was counting to 20 in my sleep last night though! We finished at 3am and it went really fast, apart from the waiting around between counting the papers and counting the individual votes.

- The candidates actually find out who's won before the official announcement you see on the TV! There is a provisional result read out to the candidates in the counting room and as long as none of the candidates dispute it then it stands.

- All the candidates get to see the spoilt ballot papers. They all gather round and the election officer shows them the slips. Candidates can argue that the spoiled paper is actually a vote for them.

- I had hoped to see some funny spoiled papers but sadly they just said stuff like 'these clowns have ruined our country' or 'they're all liars' and my favourite one 'Britain is a laughing stock'.

A thimble to help me count quickly!

The count felt so strange really - sorting the votes out it made me feel proud that so many people had used their democratic voice and had taken the time to go out and vote. (Even though the turnout in Hull East was only 49% - very low!)

However, I'm a member of the Electoral Reform Society and counting votes last night has made me even more certain that 'First Past The Post' isn't the most democratic way to vote. It can result in strong governments where there is a mandate for it, but it also means a lot of people don't see their views represented at all, which is a real shame.

It felt sad to put so many Green and Lib Dem votes in the box and know they wouldn't make any difference!

If you're interested in politics and would like to see how election night goes I'd definitely recommend taking part in a count if you get the chance. It's exciting to find out the result first and see democracy in action.

It's also good to ensure that everything is carried out fairly and accurately and I know in future that my cross in a box is taken really seriously at the count - every vote is treated with great importance!


Popular posts from this blog

Winter Walks in Hull and East Yorkshire

St Ninians Walk - a short story

Restaurant Review: The Hispanist