To celebrate #OurDay today, we’re taking a closer look at the work of elections teams at local authorities. Tanya Rowlandson, Electoral Services Officer for Broadland District Council in Norfolk since 2008, has shared some details of what her job involves.
I work in a small team so my job can be quite varied; I enjoy the challenges of the election period when things can get a bit manic. But we have a great team spirit and camaraderie that gets us through it all.
Day to day I’m dealing with the applications received via the IERDS, using council tax records to review registration entitlement, assisting with the annual household canvass and then, of course, helping with the preparations for all elections (staffing, polling stations, nomination papers and the count).
We don’t have a call centre, so I will deal with queries from the members of the public, other council officers, members and town/parish clerks.
At the moment, we’re busy preparing to publish a new electoral register by the 1 December deadline. We’ve had over a 90% response rate for this year’s canvass but some people still don’t register until a general election is announced or they want to improve their credit rating.
Our Parliamentary constituencies cross boundaries with Norwich City Council and North Norfolk District Council. We’ve previously been the lead authority for both constituencies, for the June 2017 General Election, our combined electorate was 144,258 and we issued 27,366 postal votes in-house.
During an election, managing elector expectations can be challenging. Some people think they can vote online and many don’t realise how much work is involved in arranging postal votes. It can be frustrating when someone phones and admit they’ve ripped up the ballot paper because they thought it was for a local election, mislaid it or their dog has eaten it and want a replacement. We’ve had to advise an overseas elector to retrieve the pieces from their bin and tape it together and return it immediately in order to make the polling day deadline!
We work flat out on polling day. We’re usually in the office at 6:15 am – ready to deal with any queries from our Presiding Officers and from voters who are trying to find their polling station or want to know the reason why they’re not registered to vote.
We’re also dealing with all the postal votes handed in at the stations; or at the count. Once they’ve all been scanned/processed- it’s a quick drive to our count venue to get stuck in with counting the votes which can go on until 5-6am the next day.