Elections: Party Representatives Outside The Polling Station

Liz Leffman
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Fri 10 May, 09:01 (last edited on Fri 10 May, 09:03)

Thanks everyone for this discussion - sometimes we just assume everyone knows what goes on in an election!  James, we are allowed to wear rosettes anywhere other than inside the polling station. Though in fact as a candidate I have occasionally gone in with my rosette on to thank the people working there, and haven't yet been arrested! The atmosphere outside the polling station is very friendly and we have some very good chats with our "opponents", and with people coming to vote. If someone doesn't want to give us their polling number then we never press them.  Our intention is to make sure that if you have voted you won't get disturbed later on by a knock on the door - sometimes we do go round and find that people have alrady voted, as we don;t get all the numbers. If you ever feel pressured, you have a right to complain to the presiding officer in the polling station.

Nick Millea
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Tue 7 May, 09:22

It's all part of long process - canvassing may well have taken place for many months prior to the election - you may have received a visit from the candidate or a party representative in the run-up to the election. If on that occasion you indicated you were likely to support their party, that will have been noted, and your voter ID crossed-checked with the electoral register. These ID numbers tally with that on your polling card, so the tellers are recording numbers which party officials will process, looking for the numbers they have collected in the run-up to the election. Each party simply wishes to ensure its supporters have actually voted - pretty much as Richard outlined. Hope this makes sense.

Charlie M
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Mon 6 May, 22:49

Thanks James ... you learn something every day!

James Styring
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Mon 6 May, 21:34

Since at least five years ago, tellers have been allowed (by law) to wear a rosette with their party's colour (and, I think, the name of the party but I'm not sure about the name bit).  It was until the rules changed illegal to wear rosettes, party political colours, etc., within a certain distance (500m?) of a polling station.

Jody O'Reilly
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Sat 4 May, 17:20

And they’ve never ever asked me which way I’ve voted, for neither of their parties as it happened this time, just for the number. Sometimes I do sometimes I don’t, pass the time of day, wish them luck, move on. 

Helen Chapman
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Fri 3 May, 19:46

Thanks for explaining, Chris. I’m relieved!

Chris Tatton
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Fri 3 May, 15:06

Helen, they are just noting that you have voted, this should avoid someone calling on you later to get you out to vote. Some residents are a bit hesitant about giving their polling numbers outside polling stations, but when you explain why, the vast majority of residents are more than happy to give their numbers.

Helen Chapman
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Fri 3 May, 14:36

I've always wondered who the tellers are and what they do. Richard, to confirm what they do when they take your number: are they noting you down as a supporter of their party? Or just noting that you have voted?

Hannen Beith
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Fri 3 May, 13:38

Agree with Christine.  Never had a problem with it.  Never felt intimidated.

Christine Battersby
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Fri 3 May, 10:37

It was raining on & off -- sometimes heavily -- & the party representatives are not allowed inside the building. 

Standing/sitting near to the doorway gives a degree of shelter from the weather. Personally, I am comfortable with this. In fact, I would prefer it to them getting soaked through.

Charlie M
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Fri 3 May, 10:34

Sorry Veronica - never heard of it!

veronica robinson
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Fri 3 May, 10:20

Charlie M - I think you’ve been watching too much of “The Good Fight”

Richard Fairhurst
(site admin)
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Fri 3 May, 09:56

Happy for it to stay out of the pit for now!

For those who don’t know, the ‘tellers’ are party volunteers who are basically ticking off names of supporters. If it gets to 8pm (or whatever) and known supporters haven’t voted, then usually another party volunteer will ring up the supporters and say “you haven’t voted yet, we need your vote, can we offer you a lift to the polling station?” or similar.

As Charlie says there is no obligation to speak to them if you don’t want to. On balance the tradition probably leads to more people voting, which has to be a good thing – Charlbury always has a good turnout compared to other local towns and villages.

In this case, knowing the two tellers I am 100% sure there was no intention to intimidate.

(My desk is literally a few metres away from where the tellers stand with just a thin wall between, so I get to hear fragments of conversation floating across through the day!)

Charlie M
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Fri 3 May, 09:16 (last edited on Fri 3 May, 09:17)

Richard - if you feel this needs to go in the Grease Pit, I quite understand, but I think it is nevertheless an issue that needs to be raised ...
When I went to vote yesterday evening, as usual, there were party representatives outside the Polling Station, attempting to get your number off you so they can tick you off their lists (or whatever it is they do!).
On this occasion the two representatives were right next to the entrance, so that if you wished to avoid them, you actually had to almost push by them.
One of them was displaying no "political colours"; the other one (a blonde lady, in case identification is needed) was wearing a very prominent blue Tory rosette.

Those unaware of their rights might have felt obliged to communicate with these people.

My point is this: if, as they normally do, they bring some chairs and sit out in the yard, where there is plenty of space to walk round them - if you wish to avoid them - then fair enough. But for them to stand right in front of the door presents an intimidatory aspect to those arriving to vote. Further, the wearing of a political symbol so close to the Polling Station is perhaps legally questionable, to say the least.

Interested to see what others might think.

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