Why were people turned away from polling stations in the UK election?

How did Returning Officers get it so wrong? Did they assume the trend of reducing voter interest would continue, and fail to test their assumptions?

Would scenario planning have helped them?

And what about 'customer care' : the BBC has interviews with angry disenfranchised voters here http://ow.ly/1I4qo which show that some were left queuing, not knowing what was going on.

If you were helping the UK Association of Electoral Administrators http://www.aea-elections.co.uk/default.jsp to review and plan for the next one, what would you do?


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Hi Penny

I'd ensure, first of all, that all local authorities administering elections fully understand the rules of engagement as, judging by my observations of last night's coverage, local interpretation seemed to play a large part in what occurred rightly or wrongly. No doubt some LA legal teams are coming in for some ferocious scrutiny in the cold light of day!

Secondly, I also believe that many assumed that we would once again have a low turnout and this clearly was a mistaken position to hold! As any political observer would have noted over the past few weeks in particular, this election was beginning to capture some attention and this would inevitably translate to bodies on the ground.

Thirdly, I heard a number of 'voters', via the TV, complain about the queues that they encountered and that they had returned to vote two or three times or more and then had been unable to vote. Frankly, setting aside the correct or incorrect actions of Returning Officers, if they were that keen to vote I'd have thought they would have just shown some patience!

Fourthly, the main issue for me here is not so much about why it occurred but what will the Electoral Commission, the Government (whoever that is) and the political parties will do to ensure that it does not happen again ... especially as it seems increasingly likely that another general election will loom again within another couple of years once a coalition government has failed to maintain its position!

Great topic by the way!

Kind regards

Hi John

Thanks for the posting.

If you put your coaching hat on, or leadership development hat, what approach would you take to consulting to a local authority elections team, when the dust has settled?

I'm more dismayed by the lacklustre response to the opportunity to elevate the search for consensus decision making. I heard Cecil Parkinson on BBC Radio 4 saying how disappointing it was that two parties with significant diagreements were going to be forced to work together!

Customer care is a great lens through which to view our treatement as citizens in a democracy. Will the feeble reforms so far proposed ensure a representation of our views? How about making more use of social media to get more up to date; reduce the power in the hands of rich party donors and their politician front-people.
Hi Penny,

I would review the objectives that each of the returning officers were working to.

Perhaps there should be one to ensure that everyone who turns up before 10.00pm can vote. So a clear definition of turning up may help. Being in the queue seems to be the natural definition. And then where does the queue end ...? In some polling stations it might be difficult to legislate for queue length etc etc.

It may be it is difficult to set a clear objective! Given that this is a rare occurence - I bet it doesn't happen again in the same polling stations!


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