Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ballot Boxes Too Small?

From a reader...

I think we might have a 'hanging chad' problem of our own today. At my polling station in Twickenham - they had only one box (same as normal) and ballot papers 3ft long. I talked to the tellers and it's clear they are not going to fit. Reading the comments on political betting.com survey post this morning, I am not the only one to see this.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our polling station had, as of 8 am today, only four people who'd voted - I was no. 5 - but already, I had a struggle getting my ballot to stay in the box, rather than popping out again!

If one's being very boring about this, the way in which the ballots are folded isn't all that efficient, either, in terms of space.

This election seems doomed to disaster, even in fairly unpredictable ways!

David said...

Just voted in Balham, SW12 and I was offered advice on how to fold the ballot paper so as to minimise the problem of how to fit them in later in the day!

unseen said...

Yes, I had to fold my paper up really small to fit. Cant imagine that many papers can fit in the boxes.

Oscar Miller said...

Yup - same problem at my polling station. And I voted early. Screw up typical of anything to do with the EU.

Domesday said...

Interesting comment also on PB about UKIP complaining that the ballot paper is so long they're being folded under the other parties and so not visible.

Any science available on whether position on ballot paper affects voting patterns? UKIP should rename themselves the Aadvark Party.

Thats News said...

A profile of every European Election candidate

Thought it might be useful!

Gerry de la Mongere said...

Well, and another thing...is it really healthy democratic practice for the ballot books to sit around until Sunday to be counted? Of course it isn't. And remember the delayed count and holding of ballot papers takes place in about nine countries on my count.

Why does it happen? Because the Eurocrats hate diversity and local variation and so this ridiculous restriction has been imposed.

Cameron, get us out please!

Anonymous said...

Presiding officers will be able to open the boxes and squash them down, won't they? I don't think the boxes are sealed until the end of voting.

I did a two-hour stint of telling in Westminster, from 7am until 9am. About 45 people had voted by 9 o'clock. It seemed slow, and much slower than the London elections last year.

Twotrees said...

Could this disaster be the real reason for Hazel Blears' resignation on the day before polling?

Jim said...

At St Saviour's, Pimlico, at 8.30 this morning they were using a ruler to stuff the ballot papers in the box. Only one ballot box in sight, but they might have had more behind the scenes!

albertmbankment said...

Well, here we are at 11.00 on polling day. The officials at 'my' polling station, in Hampshire, made the same comment about the size of the boxes. I got there at 7.00, as I always do to avoid the party 'tricoteuses' who pester you outside.

Furthermore, throughout this feeble non-event of an apology for an excuse for a miasma of a rumour of a campaign, there has not been a single canvasser to my door. Leaflets have arrived in the mail, or have been shoved furtively through the letter-box. there has, however. not been a single human contact.

This is safe Conservative country, or was safe until our MP distinguished himself by claiming on expenses for a £100 name-board for the house for which he had paid £2m cash [*]. He's also one of the 'swimming-pool Tories'.

So, you'd think that either the Tories would try to reinforce their claim on the vote by making a bit of an effort, or that the other parties would capitalise on his/their embarrassment and really have a go. But ... nothing.

So, why do any of these rascals deserve our votes?

[*] Frankly, I would have more respect for him if he had had the style and confidence to claim for a Pimlico love-nest and the upkeep of 2 oiled and imaginative Thai ladyboys. Claiming a miserable £100 is so effing cheap, isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Don’t worry there is plenty of room in the boxes. Every so often someone opens them and takes out any slips that haven’t voted Labour and throws them away.

Catosays said...

I live in a tiny village. I voted at about 8am and there were a lot of people voting.

But of course, only one ballot box.

Did no one think to have two, one for local one for Euro?

Joined up thinking it ain't.

Anonymous said...

I voted in Scotland. Absolutely no problem in getting the ballot paper in the box.

Of course we are used to PR elections, and use new style boxes. You can always move England forward into the 21st century!

Scrof said...

Domesday:-

It works both ways though- I let my 4 year old son vote for me in the Euros: UKIP was the only box he could reach.

Dungeekin said...

It doesn't matter whether the boxes are too small.

Postal Voting will, I hear, ensure a record turnout in today's election.

Dungeekin

Infuriati said...

I don't have this problem. I opted for a postal vote as I commuted into London from Northants for work and wouldn't be back.

Then I was made redundant.

I still have a postal vote, but discovered that the post box is further away than the polling station.

Bugger.

Tony Kennick said...

@Domesday

Positioning on the ballot paper is randomised so renaming themselves wouldn't help.

Max Atkinson said...

Ditto on mini-boxes here in deepest Somerset, where tellers say business is brisker than usual.

And why not have two boxes, one for council votes and one for Euro votes? Or is it a New Labour job creation scheme that no one's bothered to tell us about?

Anonymous said...

Same problem at my station

PhilC said...

Here in Wiltshire the person in charge of the polling station had a wonderful device for ensuring that befuddled voters were not denied their democratic rights because of small holes in the ballot box.
He was using a ruler to shove 'em in.
I think we yet avoid a Florida-style recount if everywhere takes the robust Wiltshire approach.
It's OK people; we might just get through this.

moorlandhunter said...

I've voted early and I think I was the sixth person to vote. Outside was a BNP man who asked if I had voted for Britain. 'Yes I have,' I replied, 'but not for you.'
Saying that has made my day so far and here's hoping my day will be better if the BNP trail far behind anyone in the votes.

Liz said...

I was shown how best to fold my ballot on arriving for the best fit (three times lengthways, once or twice across), and even then my returning officer had to poke it into the box with an official poking device (which looked a lot like a ruler).

Anonymous said...

Agreed Iain - we are having local and euro elections.The local ballot paper is normal size but the yellow euro-ballot paper is about foolscap size and it has to be folded in 8 to get it into the one and only ballot box and I suspect we'll have the same problem here too

In the west midlands where I voted - voting was pretty brisk at 9.00am this morning with queues forming inside for the voting booths and numerous voters cars outside the polling station - mostly the "grey vote" it has to be said.And whilst I can't be specific from conversations with a few voters afterwards outside(nothing more scientific than that)it appears that UKIP has the edge over the Conservatives with nobody owning up to voting Labour as far as I can tell

Gawain Towler said...

Hurrah for Wiltshire good sense

trevorsden said...

Even as I was reading the comments on the subsequent thread I was thinking this from my own experience. Box looked ridiculously small.

On the subject of UKIP and folded papers - our village hall was so busy I wondered into the wrong room and nearly voted for the weight watchers !!

Andy JS said...

I made a joke only yesterday that the ballot papers might not fit in the boxes since there are so many parties standing. I can't believe it's really happened. It's ridiculous how those in charge never think about anything. They happily use the same ballot boxes which have usually been used at elections where there are only 3 or 4 candidates standing.

Windsor Tripehound said...

I did a couple of hours of "telling" in Windsor this morning (7.00am-9.00am)during which time precisely 21 people voted, so I doubt that the size of ballot boxes will be a problem.

What's the likelihood of a turnout less than 10%?

Stepney said...

Polling news from Suburban Gloucestershire:

Turnout considerably bigger than expected.

Enormous EU voting forms filling ballot boxes - advice on folding given freely - panic expected later when the workers come off shift and pop in on the way home.

Some irritation at the lack of privacy with a form 2 and half foot long spilling out of the booth.

Not a sheep said...

Not able to fit all the ballot papers in the box? Then might the "powers that be" be able to make the non-Labour votes that couldn't get into sealed ballot boxes disappear between tonight and the count?

Anonymous said...

At my polling station in mid morning the clerk was already struggling to stuff the ballot papers down into the box with a ruler - a risk of spoilt papers, I expect. There's going to be trouble. But never mind - it's only for the European "Parliament" in Brussels, er no ... Strasbourg, er hang on ... Brussels, no wait ... Strasbourg ...

Anonymous said...

Fold them, surely???

Roger Thornhill said...

Sounds like they WANT this to be a cock-up.


As for the EU forcing their ways upon our election process, I suggest Richard IV's diplomatic method:

"Tell 'em to get stuffed!"

Scan said...

I too have just returned from the polling station, and I noticed, as other people seem to have done, that there was only one ballot box in the polling station. I had to wrestle mine into the box and almost became quite flustered in front of the rather lovely girl sat behind the desk.

Usually there are a number of empty ballot boxes awaiting use, however, not today.

(Apologies to Sir Compton Valence for posting this on his blog too.)

BJ said...

My polling station had an official council ruler to push the papers into the box! It also had a mechanism that allowed one to close and re-open the slot to prevent the paper getting stuck.

The last time I covered a Sunday Euro-election, from the central regional count, the ballot boxes were locked in police stations from the Thursday night to the Sunday.

Sarah said...

I was intercepted by a woman before I could put my vote in the ballot box to instruct me on how best to fold it. Then out came the ruler for "pushing in" purposes. Next thing you know they'll be some health and safety regulations laid down for the safe use of rulers in such circumstances!

Phil Taylor said...

I went to vote at about 4.30pm this afternoon in Ealing, West London. Here we are only voting in the Euro elections as London local elections are not until next May.

It was very quiet. I asked the staff a few questions. Up until 4pm only 293 had turned up to vote.

I have heard reports that some people are worried that the ballot boxes won’t be big enough for the very long ballot papers being used for this election. Apparently they have been tested here in Ealing and can accommodate 700 papers. That said the nice lady was having to use a long plastic ballot squasher to push the papers further down into the box even though they were barely over the 300 mark.

Dave said...

At 8.30am our polling station was working on the shaking process. After each ballot paper was inserted the clerk picked up the box and gave it a good shake. If a ballot box can hold 700 papers was this calculated by stacking 700 papers neatly in piles or did they actually feed the papers in through the slot?

Boabycat said...

After the Glenrothes by-election, all the ballots went missing and Labour returned healthy majority in PM's backyard.
I hope this doesn't happen if the boxes have to be emptied regularly.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!

I wouldn't put anything past this current Government.

Liam said...

I have just come back from a day visiting polling stations across Preston. The tale is very much the same there - ballot boxes being stuffed as best they can with the very large Euro ballot papers causing a lot of headaches.

Anonymous said...

Instead of the old deep metal boxes they've got shallow plastic ones. Typical of the nonsense we now have to live with.

Anonymous said...

I voted in Surrey at 12.30. Was told it had been very slow. We had seperate box for euro and council. Folded euro twice but was told to fold it again.
I thought ballot boxes were smaller than usual and they were like a sort of travel bag with zips across top not the metal ones I have always seen before.