back to article UK polling stations turn away 'hundreds' of voters

UK polling stations turned away "hundreds" of voters on Thursday, shutting their doors as people continued to queue for ballots. The BBC reports that police were called to a polling station in Lewisham, south London, where a queue of roughly 300 people had yet to vote when the doors closed at 10pm BST, and that about 200 …

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  1. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Demand outstripping supply.

    It's a good thing in all cases except where the supply in question is time. This says a few things though; the first is that Britain’s people were so prepared to take part in their nation's governance that there the polling stations were unprepared. (Alternately; the people planning for these polling stations were incompetent.) The other thing is that it can be considered a reflection on the anger of the populace of these areas towards either the extant government or the proposed replacements.

    In other words: someone got the proles angry enough to actually get off the couch and vote. I can't see this any anything other than a positive development for the whole of the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Demand outstripping supply

      "I can't see this any anything other than a positive development for the whole of the UK."

      Not wanting to disagree with the sentiment, and at the risk of fanning all sorts of flames, but only if you have a voting system that proportionately represents the votes cast, i.e. not first-past-the-post. Otherwise, how many people vote can make very little difference to the outcome.

      The best result that could come out of a hung parliament is a demand by the kingmakers to change the voting system. We did it many years ago in NZ, and it isn't perfect, but most people would agree it's much better than what we had.

      (Dons asbestos suit)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Trouble is

      a chunk of people didn't turn up to vote until very late in the day and then complained that the queue was too long

      1. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

        @Richard Drysdall

        I can't disagree with your sentiments. I abhor first-past-the-post, and wish my own government (Canada) would adopt a proportional representation system. Sadly, this would not benefit our local kingmakers at all.

      2. MonkeyBot

        Strange, that...

        It's almost like there was somewhere important that they had to be during the day.

        I think you'll find most votes are cast very early or very late in the day simply because we hold elections on workdays.

        1. BigRedS

          Busy in the day?

          If only there was a way of voting without having to go to the polling station during work. Perhaps by post or something.

          1. Stratman

            title

            The trouble with postal votes (i know, i have one) is that things can happen after the vote has been posted which might make one change one's mind.

            As for those who say the disenfranchised 'should have gone earlier', they're just plain wrong.

            The polling stations are open until 10pm. Anyone who turn up at 9:59 has fulfilled their part of the bargain.

        2. Gerhard Mack

          proportional representation is not as good as you think

          Proportional representation has the side affect of making the public feel more distant from their representative. It' also favors the fringe groups way too much. There is a very good reason the BC constituents soundly rejected the idea twice.

          A much better idea is a runoff between the highest placing candidates if the winner fails to gain more than 50% support. At least that way you don't get vote splitting and it's easier to risk your vote on smaller parties.

          1. Douglas Lowe

            See the French as a bad example...

            ... of runoff's between highest placed candidates.

            This led to left-leaning voters having to vote in Chirac in 2002, after a multiplicity of left-wing candidates in the first round of voting left the two right-wing candidates as marginally in front and so able to go through to the 2nd round (even though the left-wing candidates got well over 50% of the vote between them in the 1st round).

            A far better system would be Single Transferable Vote.

          2. Graham Marsden

            @Gerhard Mack

            PR in the form of Single Transferrable Vote is quite as good as you think, in all those close races where the winning majority was less than the number of votes cast for other candidates, instead of all those other votes being thrown away, those voters' second choice candidate get the votes until someone gets a proper majority.

            It works well in places like the Republic of Ireland and Denmark, it could work here too if people would let it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          well, if their schedule is really that difficult...

          ... perhaps we should invent a system of postal votes to help out.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Erm,

        Because they have to work late, pick kids up, might have to rely on public (sic) transport to get them there. The facts are that the retards who organised the polling stations should be publicly flogged. They should also have the payment they receive taken back from them.

        PS, before the flames, any numpty whom decides to turn up at 22:01 deserves to lose their vote.

      4. PsychicMonkey
        WTF?

        well it's alright then!

        what if you have to work for a living, have kids etc?

        The system is flawed. end of.

      5. Paul 4

        So of us work and have kids.

        "a chunk of people didn't turn up to vote until very late in the day and then complained that the queue was too long"

        What, 7pm, after getting home at 6, sorting out the kids dinner (7 year olds don't understand "Mummy and daddy have to vote befor you eat"), and rushing down the the polling station? Dosen't seem to silly to me.

        The problem seems to be that the polls are only open untill 10, which isent that late at all.

      6. Danny 14 Silver badge
        FAIL

        yes

        Its a shame we all need to work. And give kids their tea. And bath them.

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Demand outstripping supply

      Since you posted in the small hours and I'm replying on Friday evening, I have the benefit of hindsight, so forgive me, but...

      The overall turnout is almost as low as ever. (Is it the third lowest in history, or something?) So I'm afraid this isn't a positive mobilisation of angry proles. It's just a Great British Cockup. We've managed to combine an antiquated election system with lots of queueing, to produce a national embarrassment.

      I hope the rest of the world is suitably amused. Sometimes I feel that our only remaining role on the world stage is to let our former colonies have the last laugh.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    These are not the polls you are looking for

    Now go about your prole activities...

  3. Chad H.
    Stop

    Huh?

    Considering the polls in Australia close at what, 5pm? How the heck do people not find an opportunity to vote before 10pm?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      life...

      Well in the job I has a couple of years ago I was out of the house by 6:30AM and not back until between 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM so if they closed at 5 then I wouldn't be able to vote and if there was a 3 hour queue then I wouldn't have got in before 10PM so it's not always the peoples fault, however I'm guessing that a vast number of the people in the 3 hours queue could have gone during the day but put it off till late just to annoy everyone else.....

    2. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

      Different laws.

      I can't speak to Australia, but in Canada it is our law that you must be given time off work in order to vote on an election day.

    3. Gareth Pye

      Thursday V Saturday

      Voting on the weekend makes it easier for most people to reach a polling venue during business hours, doing it on a week day makes it harder for many workers.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Work?

      Does Australia have a national holiday or something? Because I was out of the house at 7:00am to go to work, and was back at around 6:00pm. And no, I couldn't have voted during my non existent lunch or whatever.

      Besides, given it should take about 5 or 10 minutes to get in and vote, it's not unreasonable to arrive 30 minutes before doors close.

    5. Oz
      Welcome

      Re: Huh?

      They did - just so did lots of other people, hence the 3 hour queues!

      (The Welcome mat - because they weren't!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        2 words...

        postal vote

      2. Anonymous John

        (untitled)

        Well in that case, you could have asked for a postal or proxy vote.

        One report claimed that many of the ones not able to vote, were students without poll cards. There's always a risk in waiting until the l;ast minute.

    6. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Australia

      Australia, cleverly one might say, hold elections on a weekend (usually a saturday). That way, 90% of people are in the clear. Additionally, if your supposed to be working that day, by law your boss has to allow you time off on that day to go and vote.

      Remember in Australia by law we have to vote (you get a $50 fine if you dont!), so we have to make the effort to get off the couch and go to the polling station!

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      RE: Huh?

      "Considering the polls in Australia close at what, 5pm? How the heck do people not find an opportunity to vote before 10pm?"

      I leave the house at 7.30am, as do alot of other people, and get back at 6pm, as do alot of other people (Infact I see the same people on the way home as I do on the way). Oddly enough I though it would be fine not rushing out first thing and going after I had got home, sorted myself out, had a bit of dinner, and sorted the kids out, buy which time it is 7ish. Not that late, but too late in some areas.

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  6. PT

    Luckily...

    ... there were sufficient ballot papers available in Redditch.

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  8. Steven 1
    Thumb Up

    @PT

    Regardless of what happens that put a smile on my face when I heard that this morning :)

  9. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Trust to Royal Mail

    ..everyone has the option of a postal vote. Of course there's a slight risk of electoral fraud but on balance probably no worse than with a ballot box. I voted last week.

  10. OzBob
    FAIL

    Want lower queues for Elections?

    Either a) Make it a Saturday or b) Make it a mid-week Bank Holiday. I seem to recall most of the world votes on a weekend to ensure turnout is adequate.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why

    In today's day and age. don't we have on-line voting as well? we have on-line everything else and this would surely allow more to vote.

    1. Code Monkey

      Govt IT Project

      That would require a UK Government IT project (i.e. a hugely expensive clusterfuck waiting to happen).

    2. dephormation.org.uk
      Big Brother

      Here's one reason why...

      Because in the UK a company like British Telecom can illegally monitor, interfere with, and sell the content of our confidential and private online data communications to a bunch of spyware crooks... and the Police/CPS will not arrest, charge, prosecute, or imprison one single person.

      Now, imagine that happening to your vote in a supposedly secret election?

      BT can spot that you voted for party X, rewrite your vote for party X as one for party Y, and tell party Y that you are a traitor to the cause of national fascism.

      I hope it will never happen in my lifetime.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Shame?

    Well, a shame or a sham really.

  13. Tom Adair
    FAIL

    Some people...

    One of the complaining non-voters interviewed on the beeb was saying she'd gone past the polling station at 6, 7 and 8pm, and not joined the queue then, but only gone down at 9:15pm... so really it was her own fault for not realising that the queue was sizeable enough to require her to go down earlier!

    On the other hand better communication between polling stations could have enabled election officials to ask some people to go to other nearby polling stations that were less busy, as you can vote at any polling station in your constituency, though you really need to take your voting card with you as only your local polling station may have you on their list. Perhaps the voting card should be a requirement considering the problems allegedly caused by a number of students in Sheffield turning up without theirs, so long as there is a provision in case you lose yours or it never turns up in the post.

  14. neil hanvey
    FAIL

    postal vote?

    if they wanted to vote so much why didn't they get a bit more organised and vote by post?

  15. Mike 102
    FAIL

    discrimination at polling station

    In relation to Sheffield the Beeb are only really reporting part of the story.

    The queue there was split into students and non-students.

    The non-students were allowed to jump the queue ahead of the students.

    Blatant discrimination.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=121206334573223

    1. Code Monkey

      Students?

      Was it really split into student/non-student or people with/without polling cards that happened to split that way?

      Students want to vote? Then they can register the same as real people can.

    2. Rob
      Stop

      Or was it more like...

      ... they we're prepared to let people vote who were actually organised and had a high chance of bringing their poll card with them, rather than lazy lastminute people who usually can be classed as students.

      1. Mike 102
        FAIL

        It wasn't done on polling card or not...

        and even if it was it would still be incorrect. Polling cards are not mandatory. The students were all registered...

      2. Mike 102
        FAIL

        no, it was nothing to do with being prepared..

        it was apparently done largely on if you looked like a student/were of a student age.... complete abuse of process...

        1. Mark O

          Looked like a student?

          If you look like a student you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Ummm...

    Something in these stories smells a little bit rotten.

    The polls have been closing at 22:00 for a long time now and we haven't had people almost rioting before. Possibly because most people know that if you turn up late you may not get in. That then is their problem, not the polling station officers.

    It is fairly easy for an agitator to stir up trouble in a queue of people, (whether that queue be for a cinema a chip shop of a general election) especially when those people are trying to figure out some way of removing the blame (for being late) from themselves. It's very easy to say _THEY_ closed the doors, _THEY_ didn't let me vote, rather than if _I'd_ not watched <insert mind killing soap here> then _I'd_ have had plenty of time to vote and have a pint afterward.

    And yes, I did my bit to ruin the country, after leaving my home at 06:10 and returning at 19:30. I still found time to get my polling card, though that isn't necessary, & go and vote. It depends on your own personal priorities.

    1. Mike 102
      FAIL

      some people were queuing for

      some people were queuing for 4 hours!! on that basis you would not have been able to vote..

      it also fairly easy for people to talk nonsense.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Four hour queue

        Where?

    2. Mark O

      @Ummm...

      Criticising _THOSE_ who didn't get a chance to vote makes you sound like an old fart indulging in a nice moaning session. If it were you that missed out then you'd probably by uppercasing about how you were disenfranchised.

  17. Thomas 18
    Thumb Up

    The Beeb says voters were "fuming", but we believe they mean non-voters.

    HA HA such a cheap shot

  18. Tony S

    Voting

    I believe that in Oz, it is the law that you must vote, hence people have to be given time off to do so. In the UK you are free to not vote if none of the candidates meet your expectation (although most people don't vote because they can't be arsed)

    It appears that in the areas where there were queues, a lot of people turned up to vote without their voting cards. It was then necessary for the staff at the Polling Station to try to verify that they were who they said they were, that they were entitled to vot and that they had not already done so. This took considerably longer than normal.

    I also heard that there were a number of students that wanted to vote for the first time, but hadn't registered - this caused some issues. However, that story seems to have died away, not sure how many were involved.

    Although I feel sorry for the those that couldn't vote, the polling stations were open for 15 hours. I think that is a reasinable amount of time (feel free to argue if you feel strongly enough).

    What was good, was the number of people that chose to actually vote - a big increase on last time. But there are still some 30% of the population that didn't, many of whom have never voted. This has to be a big concern for eveyone.

  19. Reality Dysfunction
    FAIL

    its a pity there is no alternative....

    ... for busy workers like a postal vote, then I could have voted a week ago and not bothered to go to a polling station at all, oh wait a minute I did.

  20. Leeroy
    Big Brother

    Sly tactics ?

    I think most of the working class would vote Labour and these are the people most likely to be stuck in crappy jobs all day with no chance to get away and vote. All the rich bosses ensure the workers are in work they go out and vote for the Cons.

    Why not have the vote over 48 hours, say Fri and Sat ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      More likely

      The conservative voters are the people who work in jobs where they don't have set start and finish, and are working 12 hour days. The tory vote also has alot of workers in the farming industry who are working 18 hour days at this time of year.

    2. Mike 102
      FAIL

      or maybe

      most of the benefit claimants with nothing to do but spend my taxes would vote labour.... ..

      it's not a party political issue.

  21. Hans 1
    WTF?

    Why vote?

    Besides, in the UK, like the US, what use is there to cast your vote, I mean, it's not like you have choice .... more like in the communist countries in the 80's ... Ok, you have two parties, but what is the difference between the two? Right!

    The French conservative equivalent, the UMP, are politically close to New Labour ... and New Labour say they are social demobrats ... LOL!

    I was hoping for a miracle, i.e. see a green MP for once in the UK ... sad day for the planet!

    BTW, election day in France is on a Sunday, always ...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Trouble is

    From interviews with some of the "non-voters" last night it was worse than this ... some people were so desperate to ensure that their vote counted that when they went to vote at 6pm and saw a queue they decided they couldn't be bothered to wait and came back at 9:30 to find a longer queue.

    One of the problems seems to have been the time taken to check that people were on the electoral regitser - espeicially if they had not brought a polling card. Queue for Alan Johnson to come in with the "of course, if we had ID cards then ..."

    1. Mike 102

      it's nonsense about not having a polling card.

      I didn't take mine as the wife had been rather over zealous with the recycling and I didn't have it anymore. It took no longer to find me on the list. They asked the people with polling cards the same questions they asked me, name and address. Done.

  23. Adam 10
    Megaphone

    Will it affect the result?

    Looking at the constituencies where this occurred, those who've declared a winner have declared it with a sizeable majority (so a few hundred voters wouldn't have changed the outcome), and those who are yet to are very safe seats...

    So, whilst it's an unforgivable farce and unbelievably blow against the people, I doubt it will affect the outcome.

    I'd like to know their official justification of segregating the "students" and the "residents" in Sheffield Hallam though... Surely this is forbidden? And what happens if you are a "resident" who studies in Sheffield? I understand that a sizeable proportion of students at Sheff. Hallam are from Sheffield...

  24. /\/\j17
    Stop

    To Stupid To Vote

    If you are such a retard that you can't get to a polling station in the 15 hours it's open,or see this as being a possibility and register a postal vote beforehand you quite frankly don't deserve to have your voice heard.

    Let's face it, even someone working a 12 hour shift with a 2 hour commute can either get to the polling station around the corner at 7AM, an hour before they need to leave for work or 9PM, an hour before the polls close.

    If you turn up at the train station 10 minutes before in the middle of rush hour, still needing to buy a ticket you probably won't hit the platform before the train departs. Do these people expect them to hold the train?

    1. Code Monkey

      Muphry's Law

      If you're going to call anyone a retard, learn to spell "Too".

      1. Spot the Cat
        Flame

        @ Code Monkey

        Here, here, sir!

        And so many idiots missing the point - if queues are forming outside a polling station then it's up to the returning officer to lay on more staff, booths etc to make sure everyone can vote, or so the Electoral Commission say, but, hey, what do they know?

        And what about the polling station which managed to run out of ballot papers?

    2. Mike 102
      FAIL

      people were queuing for over 4 hours!

      which if you'd gone at 7 am would have made you late for work..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      An minor but important fact...

      You seem to be forgetting that the people who were turned away were the ones who tried to vote in the time alloted - they were queuing up at the time in order to do that very thing weren't they?

      Is there some compulsory amount of time we have to factor in when deciding what time to go to the polling station?

      No?

      Thought not. The right to vote is not conditional upon the ability or preparedness to queue.

  25. Gaius
    FAIL

    People who can't be bothered to show up on time...

    ... Shouldn't be allowed to vote anyway.

    Seriously, they can't tell the time and they want a say in how the country is run?

    1. Stratman

      title

      They did turn up on time. Before 10pm.

      Some of them turned up three hours before the polls closed but still couldn't get in to vote.

  26. Qwelak
    Big Brother

    Why they don't use on-line voting (probably)

    Apparently ine of the key parts of the voting system (according to reports I have read) is that the vote is supposed to be secret. This was because in the old days prospective MPs used to pay people to vote for them, if they could ID the voter they new who pay. With on-line voting you would pretty much HAVE to Id yourself in order to avoid repeat voting or automated voting fraud or politicians buying votes directly (and probably claiming the money back on expenses).

    Personally I would hav eno problem with people knowing my vote or on-line voting but the fraud side needs to be dealt with first.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Secret?

      So is that why each voter slip has a serial number on the back? And why they write that number down next to your name on the list of voters?

  27. Daniel Wilkie

    The thing is...

    There were 13 hours in which to vote. People, by their own statements, were "turning up at 6, finding the queues too long so went home and came back later" when, shocker, the queues were even longer.

    Do what myself and many other people who DID vote managed to do.

    STAND IN THE FUCKING QUEUE UNTIL YOU GET TO THE FRONT.

    Seriously, we can't even get THAT bit right and we're trying to impose fair democracy on other countries around the world? That's just plain scary.

    1. frymaster

      well if there was a queue...

      constantly from 6pm until 10pm, then even if they'd stayed,. it would have meant someone _ELSE_ would have had issues instead

      in some places, people in the queue at 7pm had been in the queue since 4pm...

      1. Daniel Wilkie
        Happy

        A fair point

        But my parents queued for 3 and a half hours and got to vote (from 6pm) - from what I've heard people were turning up, seeing the queue, then going away and coming back later only to find the queue was bigger.

        It's an important right, and as it only happens every few years, to me it's worth standing in a queue tbh.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          But...

          ... who would seriously expect the queues to get longer towards the end. Previous experience no doubt played a part, and people arriving at 6-7pm thought "Oh, it is just people voting on their way home from work. I'll come back later when the queue will have gone down". Queues at polling stations until closing time are very rare - probably not within living memory.

          Regarding postal votes - fine if you are not going to be influenced by any last minute events ("I've always voted [insert] and there is nothing going to change that"), but there are others who want to have the flexibility. If, as one commentator has said, it is possible to vote anywhere within a constituency, why isn't this better known? Problems might have been avoided by telling people this.

          We should be celebrating the increase in political involvement, not saying "Well, it's their own fault for wanting to vote at their own convenience". Equally, let's be proud that people went out and *did* stand in queues, in the rain, to vote, even if they didn't actually have their polling card to hand. This is a good sign for the future, but let's hope it hasn't put people off (or that there will be some call for electronic voting based on ID cards).

  28. MarkOne
    FAIL

    What cretin

    can't find a time to vote between 7AM and 9PM (14 hours) and has to leave it to the last minute.

    Those people clearly are too stupid to deserve to vote.

  29. joshimitsu
    Alert

    the post

    How about the people who can't make it to the polls on time coulda used the postal vote, or changed their polling station to a place near work and borrow a couple hours off?

    1. Douglas Lowe

      postal votes

      should only be a last resort for those who absolutely can't make it to the polling booth.

      I think a better idea would be to either have the elections on a weekend, or to declare election day as a national holiday.

      1. Mark O
        Thumb Up

        A holiday for the election?

        I think it's a great idea - an extra long weekend and 50 times as many postal votes to count. I know I wouldn't stick around - I'd be on expedia the minute they announced the election.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Australia,

    The polls close earlier because elections are held on a Saturday, not a work day.

    (http://aec.gov.au/Elections/australian_electoral_system/Electoral_Procedures/Federal_Election_Timetable.htm#Polling_day)

  31. Paul_Murphy
    Stop

    Maybe

    The voting districts should be organised by the number of people in each district - say one polling station per 2000 people or whatever.

    I voted last night with no issues whatsoever, arrived @5:45 after getting off my train and a 10-minute walk to the voting place - no queue, in and out in around 4 minutes, including a little natter to the officials - there were 4 official people in there, so well staffed as well.

    ttfn

  32. Douglas Lowe
    Coffee/keyboard

    The Beeb says voters were "fuming", but we believe they mean non-voters.

    Sublime...

  33. Valerion
    WTF?

    What amazed me

    Was they were saying unexpectedly high numbers turned up to vote.

    WTF?

    a) They knew this was going to be a high turnout.

    b) Surely they should be planning on 100% turning up anyway?

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      And then ...

      ... adding on at least 10% for the accidentally damaged papers, confused voters, etc. Typical lack of foresight, I'm afraid.

  34. Evil Auditor
    FAIL

    Why bother?

    Why bother about not being able to vote* as long as this majority voting system is not able to accurately reflect the public's opinion and produce a corresponding result.

    *Cynicism aside, what happend here is only worth a banana republic's dictatorship.

  35. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    I know...

    Online voting via Facebook and Twitter!!

    What could go wrong?

  36. Alex King
    Stop

    Saturday...

    ...is a working day for many people too, such as doctors, nurses, shift workers of any sort etc., so that doesn't solve it.

    I think a 15 hour window plus the option of postal voting should be sufficient. Many people are just a bit stupid and lazy when it comes to voting.

    Taking the students for example, there's no way any of these had a long commute to contend with in the morning, or couldn't spare a few minutes during the day to nip off and vote.

    With the last scottish elections using the STV system, many people could not muster the comprehension to put numbers in boxes instead of Xs.

    Undoubtedly things could have been better organised in some places, but people need to take responsibility for their own voting arrangements too.

  37. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Insufficient staff, inadequate preparedness...

    There was a queue at my local Polling Station and a bit of checking with the stopwatch function on my wristwatch found that the staff were taking between 40 seconds and a minute to deal with *each* voter ie to go through the process of them getting to the desk, handing over the Polling Card (add extra time if they'd forgotten it), find the name on the register, rule it out, tear off two voting slips and write down the numbers before the person could make actually go and make their mark.

    It's clear that when the queues started to form, there was insufficient preparedness on the part of officials to speed up the process by, for example, drafting in extra staff or allowing the Polling Stations to stay open longer (some places, eg Lewisham, did stay open, others closed on the dot of 10pm because "that's the law") and that's not something we should be expected to put up with.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running out of ballot papers really is inexcusable.

    It'd be like going to the post office and being told they've run out of stamps. Only this particular post office is open for 1 day every 5 years and serves no purpose other than to dispense stamps.

  39. Ross 7

    Lovin' the bitterness

    Clearly one El Reg reader missed out having turned up at 21:55 and has been downvoting the "postal vote ftw" posts :o) I'm lovin't it (yes, it seems I watch too much commercial TV).

    I must correct one point tho' - turning up at 21:59 ain't sufficient. The vote must be cast by 22:00 unless the Presiding Officer allows otherwise. It's just like turning up to the match on a Sat (or Mon, or Tues, bloody Sky...) 2 minutes before kick-off. They might let you in, they might not if the queue is huge and you can't get in before kick-off. It's your job to be there in sufficient time, bearing in mind that most ppl will be voting 5pm-9pm with a smaller rush from 7am-9am. Plan accordingly.

    Postal votes are a good idea if you have family/work commitments that may impact on your ability to vote - it;s exactly why they are provided for. Anyone worried about changing their mind in the last 7 days of the election campaign based on what someone might say on the tele really needs to give some thought to what basis they are voting on. Sounds like fluff...

    Finally, it would be interesting to see what proportion of those non-voters sans polling cards were actually registered to vote. Students are notorious for not being registered ("I don;t need to pay council tax so why should I tell the council I live here?")

    1. dr_forrester
      FAIL

      It's just like turning up to the match...

      Except that watching the match isn't a guaranteed right. Here in the States, if you're in line before polls close, you have an absolute right to cast your vote. As for polling places running out of ballots, as others have said, that's completely inexcusable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's just like turning up to the match...

        dr_forrester: Here in the States, if you're in line before polls close, you have an absolute right to cast your vote.

        Unless you are black.

  40. dephormation.org.uk

    Something very nauseating

    ... about watching Police officers forcing enthusiastic voters away from a supposedly democratic General Election in the UK.

    That and waking up to find Gordon Brown is still clinging to the keys of Downing Street.

  41. Alan Firminger

    It looks systematic

    The voters without polling cards is a spurious excuse. With a poll number or just an address it takes the same time to find, and mark, the record in the roll.

    Councils are under pressure to save money. So they minimise staff and save on voting papers. They probably work to a stanardised 10 % margin over last time, turnout is 10 % up and variability did the rest.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had a quiet laugh to myself

    I remember US elections and the laughter of workmates in the UK at the "third world" nature of the queues. Funny, no laughing yesterday...

  43. Gordon861

    Voting

    I was one of the people working at this election in a London Borough.

    We were open from 7am until 10pm, and the Polling Stations are all very local to the registered address of the voter so public transport is not required. Add to this the fact that if you were disabbled you can almost bet that one of the local parties would have been willing to give you a lift if they thouht you might vote for them there is no excuse not to get there on time. The staff were there from 6:15am until about 10:30pm and unable to leave the station or take any proper breaks unless things got quiet.

    At our location we had about 5k people on the voter lists, this list was then split into three parts. So after the postal votes etc each station probably had about 1500 people to look after. We had papers for about 1200 people at each station, we could have got more if we needed them but it's very unlikely. Everyone wants us to stop wasting money and printing papers for every voter would mean an extra 30-40% of paper being paid for and wasted.

    People have to go to the particular station and be marked off their list to ensure that they only vote once, so there is no way we could just add extra staff once we had started. Most of the day we had 30-40 people delt with each hour, at our peak 6-8pm we were dealing with 100 per hour (I logged the number every hour), and queues were stretching out the door but we were working as fast as possible. the voter cards made our life much easier because we could use the number to go straight to the place on the register instead of having to look it up via street name, house number and name.

    We didn't have to turn anyone away for being late, but most elections we end up with someone that seems to want to see how fine they can cut it and still vote. The rules we were working to were if you have a Ballot Paper at 10pm you can vote but we will not issue any papers after 10pm.

    I've seen a lot of posts/comments all over the place sugesting the use of computers for doing the lists so people can vote anywhere they like. The problem with this is that most of the voting is done for a particular Ward so the papers would need to be kept together in that ward for counting etc. If you moved the whole thing to an electronic system I think we'd have even more problems than we do now and more claims of tampering with the systems.

    The great thing about the current UK way of voting is that there is a true paper trail that can be looked over later to see what happened and we don't require electricity to set a station up. If the only location available is a portacabin we can use that, there have also been ocassions where the start of the poll has been run from the back of a car due to keyholders not turning up.

    The UK system might not be perfect but it's robust and for the most part it works well.

  44. Gordon861

    Couple More Thoughts

    Weekend Voting

    This has been looked at before including the 14hr voting window. A big problem with this is the fact that a lot of our Polling Stations are in church buildings that are often in use at the weekends, or would cost a lot more to hire.

    Postal Votes

    You can hang onto your Postal Vote and hand it in on the day of the vote but (in London) it needs to go to the station that you would normally vote at(due to ward boundaries) or the Town Hall. Also if you loose your Postal Vote you can normally get a replacement on the day from your local Town Hall.

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