Thursday, May 01, 2008

Afternoon Live Blog

21.38 Right, off to City Hall. Proper live blogging will start between 10 and 10.30pm. Can't wait!

21.00 LibDem HQ in Cowley Street is deserted.

18.20 Right, off for a couple of hours to attend to some important Boris business... Back later.

17.47 LibDem tellers and knocker uppers in Kingston have all been withdrawn and deployed to Richmond.

17.45 You can always tell when leftists smell the stench of defeat: they start calling Tories liars. Witness the lovely Kevin Maguire.

17.37 From Gavin Whenman: American or canadian tourist as I was walking part Parliament- "so people still work here?" Only part of the time...

17.29 More news from Reading, this time from former Labour MP for Reading East, Jane Griffiths who has left this in the comments section: "My people in Reading indicate that the marginals in Reading East have all been abandoned by Labour, with the exception of the ward represented by the (ex) leader - but there the knocking up is baing done by people from South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, which don' have elections today, and all Reading workers are in the Reading West marginals. Because this is the War of Saving Salter's Face. Reading council is no longer Labour that is sure."

17.25 Some months ago on 18 Doughty Street LibDem blogger Lawrence Boyce promised that is Boris Johnson won the London mayoralty, he'd "kiss Donal Blaney's fat hairy arse". A nation waits to see whether he will deliver on his pledge. A camera crew from Channel 4's "Top 100 Grossest TV Moments" has been booked.

17.16 The BBC election night programme starts with a panel of George Osborne, Charles Kennedy and, ahem, Tessa Jowell.

17.14 Chris Rennard, the LibDems election guru has told journalists that even if the LibDems loses seats tonight they could still have a very good night. Hmmm. An interesting spin challenge, if ever there was one.

17.07 Shane Greer tears apart Steve Richards' incredibly elitist article which essentially says London voters are stupid.

17.00 I have only just got around to reading the ridiculous Zoe Williams in today's Guardian. Apparently, she writes, Boris "despises gays", "despises provincials" and "despises Africans." She hasn't finished yet. "He despises those of us who hold such judgments to be bigoted and inhuman". Could I just add that he probably despises idiotic feminazi Guardian harridans who still hanker after the muddy delights of Greenham Common. Who is this Zoe Williams? Should I have heard of her?

16.59 Coffee House reports that the London Evening Standard has formally endorsed Boris. And in other news today, it's reported that bears have been shitting in the woods.

16.48 ConservativeHome's live blog is HERE.

16.30 Labour have pulled their tellers out of key marginal wards in Reading and do not appear to ne 'knocking up' according to my man on the ground there.

16.24 From an elderly voter in Fulham to a Tory teller: Best comment I had was from a very elderly lady who confided to me that she had given her first vote to 'Hugh Paddick' and her second to 'Brian Johnson'!

16.16 From a reader: "A curious point that you might be able to help me with: we went to vote in North London today and, being good citizens, took our polling cards. I have no problem with having my name checked off against the register to prevent double-voting but what happened next was a first for me and caused great concern. The second person behind the desk then wrote my number on a list against a number. I checked: the back of each ballot paper had the same bar-code and the number printed on them. I had assumed that there was no way that your vote could be traced back to you: but apparently there now is. The Labour party rep outside sympathised and said it was to prevent electoral fraud (photo id would be better) but I can't see how this helps." Is this a new development?

63 comments:

Adam said...

A secret poll merely means non election officials can't see who you voted for. It's pretty standard. I've had the misfortune to run a few student elections (2000 turnout ish) and you always get some idiots insisting on ripping off the identifying number as if anyone cared which way they voted.

Alex said...

Aargh. When I worked at the Electoral Reform Society my whole day every polling day was taken up with just this query. Nope - it's not new. It's always been done. We do not have a secret ballot in the UK, merely a private one. Your polling number is written on the counterfoil to your ballot paper so that they can be matched up in the event of a court order if fraud is suspected. It almost never happens and there is no routine matching up - even in the case of BNP votes!

Benedict White said...

They have always marked down polling card numbers against ballot papers in every election I have voted in. This goes back to 1987. There is nothing sinister in it. It does allow fraud to be checked for.

Anonymous said...

That fount of all knowledge Walsall MBC has the answer:

http://www.walsall.gov.uk/index/council_and_democracy/elections/voting_faq.htm#7347

I'm pretty sure it's been that way for some time - I've certainly come to the conclusion that my vote would be potentially traceable in the past.

Mike Small said...

This ia a hardy perennial. When wil we find out if you have embarrased yourselves by electing an Etonian Buffoon as mayor?

Dave Ward said...

As far as I understand it, this has always been the case and this list, and the ballot papers are kept separate for a period of time after the election. If any kind of fraud is suspected, it takes a court order to allow investigators to marry up individuals and their votes. Probably safe from the police state, I think it would be a criminal offence for anyone to find out how an individual had voted withouth the court order.

Dave

Antoine Clarke said...

It may not have been a bar code, but the writing of a voter number on the counterfoil of a ballot paper was standard practice in LB Camden at least in 1990. Because the counterfoil and ballot paper have a serial number, it has always been possible for someone who might have access to the ballot papers to work out who voted for who.

Papal elections handle this rather well. After each round of voting, the voting slips are burnt.

young pretender said...

Whatever anyone says, it's obviously not a secret ballot if the voter can be identified from the ballot paper.

Dave B said...

Forgive my ignorance, but what are 'tellers'?

John Fisher said...

Not an innovation as such, altho' the bar code is.

It has always been possible to trace ballot papers back to electors: at one time the names of those who voted Communist were routinely passed to MI5.

Personally, I consider a secret ballot to be immoral. The poll should be published. If you're not prepared to stand up and be counted, you don't deserve to have a vote.

Noelinho said...

It's not a new development to me, but yes, it does mean that technically, it is possible to find out how people voted.

Anonymous said...

"The Labour party rep outside sympathised and said it was to prevent electoral fraud (photo id would be better) but I can't see how this helps. Is this a new development?"


Information from my local Council:

"At the polling station you do not have to show your polling card, but it may help officials.

To guard against duplicate voting, your name will be crossed off a checklist.

Your ballot paper will be stamped to validate it and numbered to combat fraud."

Tony Kennick said...

re 16.16 they have always tallied the two together, it used to be your number went on the counterfoil rather than on a separate list.
These lists should be kept separate from the ballot papers and only married up under a court order. in practice the way votes are counted it would be difficult to find how you voted without a good number of people being in on it.

Paul Donnelley said...

With reference to being able to trace who voted for whom (if "they" want to), this has always been the case - at least in the 20 years I have been able to vote. In the past, a number has been written on the ballot paper that corresponds to my number on the electoral roll.

Something I have never noticed before though, is the absence of candidates' home addresses on ballot papers. I seem to recall in every previous election the home address has been published under the relevant name. Is this omission because of "security/"health and safety"?

Mark M Heenan said...

With reference to the number on the back of the ballot paper, this has been standard practice for many, many years. It IS possible to trace a ballot paper back to the voter, but this is only ever done during electoral fraud investigations. For anyone other than authorised civil servants administering the election process to try to determine this number is a serious criminal offence.

Anonymous said...

No it's not a new development. The secret ballot is a myth and has been at least for my lifetime. They've always been numbered and traceable.

Anonymous said...

Numbers on ballot papers? Yes all ballot papers can be checked in case of allegations of fixing.

Secret ballots were not introduced to protect us from a prying state but from landlords, employers, etc. One reason was that a secret ballot made bribery less likely - because the bribers would not be able to know if you had voted as you were paid to!

With the secret ballot, though, came controls to help stamp down on impersonation etc - and keeping records of who cast each ballot was part of that. If you read about cases of electoral fraud a lot turned on identifying people went to vote and were told they already had. You then had to track down and disallow the paper that had been completed by whoever impersonated them.

I'm not sure what happens to local authority ballot papers but parliamentary ones were surrendered into the custody of the speaker and kept for some length of time at Westminster in case there were legal challenges to the result - then destroyed.

Mike Wood said...

Don't think it's new.
They've done it for as long as I can remember.
The information is all stored at the Government department formerly known as the Lord Chancellor's Department.
It is virtually impossible to find out how anyone voted but it would be much easier to find out who cast a particular ballot paper.

Laurence Boyce said...

Someone from the Cambridge Lib Dems thought the candidate was Hugh Paddick - easy mistake to make as you get older I guess.

On voter traceability, it's been that way for ages. In principle, we could know how everyone voted in every election. The ballot boxes are stored somewhere for a period, and may be opened only by order of a judge.

Some people think this is a matter for grave concern. Other people (like me) couldn't give a stuff.

Geoffh said...

"IS this a new development?"

Sigh.....every election this old saw comes round. This measure has ALWAYS been taken and is only used to trace back in the case of a legal dispute.

Someone - was it your informant? - has been posting this everywhere on blogs dedicated to today's election bemoaning the lack of a secret ballot.

dirty european socialist said...

Does Reading have a vote?
People of London I have one message to you. Do not go back to the apples and pears fo the tory years.

Anonymous said...

More truisms involving the London Standard. It quotes David Campbell, CEO of AEG Europe, owner of the O2 Arena as having voted for Ken because

"Ken has helped government recognise London's vital role in the UK economy"

Clever lot these Labour-supporting captains of industry.

dirty european socialist said...

Bush fixed the 2004 elections maybe the neocons want to get rid of Livingstone with more voter fraud. They should get rid of all the equipment. It is just allows more fixing.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can remember there has always been an audit trail on the voting slips . (I first voted in late 50's)

I understand that they can only be accessed with a court order.

Disgusted Grange-over Sands

verity said...

6:16 - I noticed this years ago in Britain and it alarmed me. But it's nothing new.

jane said...

my people in Reading indicate that the marginals in Reading East have all been abandoned by Labour, with the exception of the ward represented by the (ex) leader - but there the knocking up is baing done by people from South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, which don' have elections today, and all Reading workers are in the Reading West marginals. Because this is the War of Saving Salter's Face. Reading council is no longer Labour that is sure.

Peter Harrison said...

Ian - re your comment at 16:16, this is not a new development (but someone seems to bring it up at every election). The process of writing the roll number on the counterfoil and having a serial number on both the counterfoil and the ballot paper was introduced by the Ballot Act of 1872 and has not changed since.

Anonymous said...

Poor Tessa - put up to take a slapping! He He!

Anonymous said...

What a marvellously elitist article straight from the heart of the finger-wagging, dictatorial, priggish Left by Steve Richards as he comtemplates the end of Livingstone:

"But today it is the voters, not the political leaders, who face a series of tests. I wonder how many of them will pass."

Rich in its arrogance. I shall treasure that one for many years.

Dave B said...

@Jane
Have you heard anything about Redlands ward? I did some leafleting there last week.

stuart said...

I am surprised that you, as a former parliamentary candidate, report this email comment, Iain. As everyone on here as pointed out, this is standard practice, and everyone involved in election campaigns knows all about it, in my experience anyway.

On the Labour tellers (and "dave b" - tellers are those members of political parties who stand outside with rosettes on and ask for your polling number), it is becoming standard practice for Labour to knock up by telephone; this means that their dwindling number of activists are not tied up standing outside polling stations achieving very little.

This is perhaps an example of modern Labour campaigning tactics being used in Reading, and not a sign that they have given up and gone home.

Pete (WestBrom Blogger) said...

Prison staff across the North East have just gone on strike. Why couldn’t they have done that yesterday.

Here in Brum reports are of high turnouts across the city. Things might not be going as badly in Coventry as feared either.

Dave H. said...

How would these unique identifiers prevent repetition of the numerous postal vote frauds?

You could never tell who actually filled them in.

Laurence Boyce said...

Some months ago on 18 Doughty Street Lib Dem blogger Laurence Boyce promised that if Boris Johnson won the London mayoralty, he'd "kiss Donal Blaney's fat hairy arse."

That is outrageous Iain – I surely never said Donal's arse was fat or hairy? I simply stated that I would kiss his arse in whatever condition I found it, presumably clean. I also have a feeling that I promised to do it live on 18 Doughty Street, which would get me out of it, since the demise of that once great TV station.

Go Brian!

jane said...

very slow is what I have heard Dave B - but it seems that all activists are out of Reading East wards (which includes Redlands) and into Reading West, so the place is effectively abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I am a Labour party member in the South West constituency of London and I spent the morning and early afternoon knocking up voters. Labour support was 5 times that of the Conservatives.

Yak40 said...

dirty european socialist said...
Bush fixed the 2004 elections ..


Yes yes, and stole it in 2000, 9/11 was an inside job, Armstrong never walked on the moon ...

Time for your meds old chap.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I am a Labour party member in the South West constituency of London and I spent the morning and early afternoon knocking up voters. Labour support was 5 times that of the Conservatives.

Which part of Hounslow was that then?

Anonymous said...

Lady Wyatt was lying?

Twig said...

Anon May 01, 2008 4:42 PM
"Your ballot paper will be stamped to validate it and numbered to combat fraud."



If anything is stamped or written on the ballot paper apart from your cross and the printed content, the paper is invalidated.
See link below (para.4)
BBC report on Lambeth polling station inquiry

Unsworth said...

@ Stuart

"and not a sign that they have given up and gone home."

Such a pity - and a shame they haven't taken the entire PLP with them.

Anonymous said...

Oh No !! Not another couple of hours without updates or comments...

Yawn - this blog is becoming a bore..

Anonymous said...

hi Lab canidate from South Wales
2nd quick post of the day; turn out really bad despite it being a very sunny evening - we will do very well to get turn out up to 25%. i fear 20-21% more likely. still, a small increase from 19% in 2004.

hard to say what effect this will have on the results but i think BNP will do suprisingly well - prob around 300 votes out of 2000. My prediction? well, 4 lab candidates and an independent well ahead of the other 10 candidates and four of the top 5 will be elected. Which 4 depends on 1000 small things. i suspect i will be either 4th or 5th

i am sending this via a blackberry - the wonders of the modern age continue to marvel.

i will try to update later in the evening

Angela said...

I lived within London boundaries for many years, but now a little way beyond and can't vote. My daughter has lived in London for six years and hasn't bothered to register to vote. I love her dearly, but politically she's a waste of space, as are most of her friends. If Ken Livingdeadstone wins, she will complain that she & her ilk never had a say. I will stay quiet for the sake of family harmony.

Meanwhile I am on my knees praying that Boris will be victorious :)

Anonymous said...

On the Circle Line home tonight a couple of Christian Alliance loonies harassing commuters, handing out newsletters and loudly urging us to produce a "last minute miracle" by electing Alan Craig. One of them even started singing hymns.

Handing out leaflets at stations is one thing, but doing it on the trains is beyond the pale. If it isn't actually against the law it should be!

Anonymous said...

So Iain was a candidate for a major political party in 2005 and was unaware that polling numbers were recorded on counterfoils?

Well I never.

Auntie Flo' said...

I'm just back from kicking Gordon's *rse....er, voting...and all ten people I saw coming out of my local polling station in Harlow told me they'd kicked Gordon's *rse too'

Wee Gordon, you are going to have a very - well deserved - sore bum by tomorrow morning :)

JuliaM said...

"I am a Labour party member in the South West constituency of London and I spent the morning and early afternoon knocking up voters."

Well, so long as the CSA doesn't find out, you should be in the clear.

Taking party loyalty a bit too far though..?

Richard said...

Re. Steve Richards' piece, indeed, it's on a par with the attitude of the secretary of the writers' union in East Germany, as satirised by Bertold Brecht 'Why not dissolve the people/And elect another?'

I expect that, in as much as it has any effect, it'll be counterproductive, like The Guardian telling people in Ohio to vote for Kerry.

Indeed, when Johann Hari attacked the Green Party as being more Eurosceptical than UKIP in the last Euro-elections, he persuaded me, as a Labour Party member opposed to the European Constitution, to go out and vote Green.

As a centrist social democrat from a lower middle-class background, I share entirely your other contributor's dislike of the 'priggish left', or what I suppose we might call 'Disgusted of Muswell Hill'. Still, Richards has some way to go before he matches Madeleine Bunting for malevolent fatuity.

Anonymous said...

'Off for a couple of ours to attend some serious Boris business'...you are such a show off mate!

Helen said...

City Hall? Nothing will happen there till tomorrow afternoon when the ballot papers are brought in from the constituencies for the final collation.

Auntie Flo' said...

Just appeared on BBC's Have Your Say:

Did you vote in the local election in England & Wales?
Polling stations are now closed in the local elections for England and Wales. Who did you vote for?

Auntie Flo' said...

BBC News online's Have Your Say:

Did you vote in the local election in England & Wales?

Reply:

Thursday, 1 May, 2008, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK

"Yep. Like millions of others, I suspect, I voted Conservative to give Gordon a kicking!

First tme I recall seeing electors practically skipping into the polling station for a local election.

stuart said...

@5.47 update - if true, this is a strange decision. They are both part of the same Assembly seat.

Anonymous said...

stuart said...
"@5.47 update - if true, this is a strange decision. They are both part of the same Assembly seat."

Nothing strange about it. It simply means that potential Lib Dem voters in Richmond need more prodding than those in Kingston.

dirty european socialist said...

I am dissapointed you use the phrase feminiazi. That is an offensive phrase to use. To refer to a feminist as a feminazi is wrong. You may dissagree wiht her. But this is wrong. I read this blog, and i enjoy reading it. I know I am hardly the most dignified indiviudual myself by such phrases are wrong. Dissagree with her if you want but do not pander to the extremists who often use this phrase. Please do not use this phrase. I am not a women or even that bothered with feminism. But the phrase feminazi was used by that evil BNP guy. Do not use their lingo. I am sorry but I think that is wrong to use such a phrase.

dirty european socialist said...

Yak40 This is based on evidence. What kind of idiot thinks 2000 was not stolen. With 2004 Greg Palast a very reliable journalist has found evidence Ohio was stolen. Do not put down the truth with you insane claims. Patronising bully. You're the reason morons like Bush get away with it. I suppose cash for questions in the tory party was just a UFO fantasy. Do not put down legitmate claims you patronising bore

wrinkled weasel said...

Tessa Jowell looks like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Labour meltdown!

I am so happy and I am not even on drugs.

robbinghood said...

What an absolute turncoat creep is Michael Portillo. A really greasy performance on the BBC tonight. Why don't the BBC just hand out 'Vote Ken' rosettes to everyone and have done with it? And pass on the comment please that the performances of Vine and Maitliss have been cringe-making.
Thank goodness that there is a real professional there - Dimbleby knows what he's doing.

robbinghood said...

Just a footnote. The BBC is supposed to be politically balanced, isn't it?
I think BBC producers should give serious thought to replacing one of Andrew Neil's companions on his Thursday night show - it's not really fair to have two Labour supporters on every week, is it? By the way, what's this fixation that BBC politics producers have with obscure rock 'stars'? One always crops up, invariably Labour supporters and mostly unintelligible.

Desperate Dan said...

Labour MPs were saying all night that the vote meant the Tories had to tell people the minutiae of Tory policy. I think the Tories should keep their policies to themselves and NOT give them away to Labour, the party of no ideas.

Anonymous said...

Alex said...

"it's not new. It's always been done. We do not have a secret ballot in the UK, merely a private one. Your polling number is written on the counterfoil to your ballot paper so that they can be matched up in the event of a court order if fraud is suspected. It almost never happens and there is no routine matching up"

Correct. Though there have been cases in the past when Returning Officers stayed up all night to give MI5 access to the votes so they could find out who had voted for Communist candidates. Entirely illegal of course.

Dave H. said...

"How would these unique identifiers prevent repetition of the numerous postal vote frauds?"

The system is not really designed to prevent nulab encouragement of wholesale fraud. When a County court issues an order the ballot papers may be examined to find which papers require examination. A court would then decide whether it matters; either the result is upheld or a rerun of the election is ordered.

Will said...

I finally got round to reading Zoe Williams' piece on Friday - on account that the Guardian in Scotland seemed to forget to put Thursdays G2 in, and popped it inside Fridays G2 instead. If only it were a national election.