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East Riding of Yorkshire Council
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Polling staff


What does a presiding officer do?

Presiding officers are responsible for the conduct of the ballot in the polling station and they must have a sound knowledge of the voting procedures.

After the close of poll, the presiding officer must seal the slot of the ballot box and any candidate, election agent or polling agent present may also affix their seal to it.

The ballot paper account is the most important of all the paperwork and should be filled in first, with care. The ballot paper account reconciles the number of ballot papers dealt with by the presiding officer. 

Before leaving the polling station, it is ensured that any waste material is disposed of appropriately and the premises are left tidy and that any keys are returned to the appropriate person.

Presiding officers then have to deliver the ballot box and paper work to the relevant count centre.

A full list of presiding officer duties can be viewed below:

Duties of the Presiding Officer

Presiding Officers are responsible for the conduct of the ballot in the polling station and they must have a sound knowledge of the voting procedures.

The presiding officer’s main duties are to:

  • Comply with any instructions issued by the Local Returning Officer
  • Ensure the secrecy and security of the ballot
  • Organise the layout of the polling station and liaise if required with the key-holder of the building
  • Instruct and supervise the work of the poll clerk
  • Open and close the polling station on time
  • Maintain order in the polling station
  • Be polite and professional in dealing with voters, candidates and agents and others entitled to be present in the polling station
  • Act impartially at all times
  • Account and be responsible for all the ballot papers, paperwork and ballot boxes
  • Ask the prescribed questions of voters when necessary, including when asked to do so by candidates or agents or before the issue of a tendered ballot paper
  • Ensure the proper procedure for voting is followed, ensuring that the corresponding number list is marked correctly
  • Ensure that when either they or their poll clerk issues a ballot paper, it bears the official mark and is issued correctly to eligible voters
  • Deal with special voting procedures as required
  • Receive any postal votes handed in by voters
  • Manage the attendance of those entitled to be present in the polling station, eg candidates and agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers and ensure that they do not interfere with the voting process
  • Monitor the activities of tellers outside polling places and ensure that they do not interfere with the voting process
  • Keep the polling station neat and tidy
  • Ensure that all signs and notices are clear, visible and remain in place throughout the day.

After the close of poll, the presiding officer must seal the slot of the ballot box and any candidate, election agent or polling agent present may also affix their seal to it.

The ballot paper account is the most important of all the paperwork and should be filled in first, with care. The ballot paper account reconciles the number of ballot papers dealt with by the presiding officer.  

Remember to complete all the paperwork even if it seems that there is nothing to report. There may be occasions when, for example, no tendered ballot papers have been issues and in those cases you still need to fill in the relevant sections of the ballot paper account with ‘0’.

Remember to keep the ballot paper account with the ballot box and also any postal votes that have been handed in.

Finally, before leaving the polling station, make sure that any waste material is disposed of appropriately and the premises are left tidy. Ensure that any keys are returned to the appropriate person.

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What does a poll clerk do?

Poll clerks do not have the responsibilities of the presiding officer but must know all the procedures for voting and how to deal with any problems. The role of the poll clerk is to assist the presiding officer in the running of the polling station. Below are some of the main duties that a poll clerk should carry out:

  • Comply with the instructions of the local returning officer and the presiding officer 
  • Assist with the layout of the polling station and prepare for the opening of the poll 
  • Check that electors are eligible to vote in this election and at this polling station 
  • Check and mark electors’ elector numbers in the register of electors 
  • Write electors’ elector numbers against the number of the ballot paper issued in the corresponding number list 
  • Issue ballot papers to voters when directed by the presiding officer, ensuring that they bear the official mark 
  • Help with any other polling station duties on the instruction of the presiding officer 
     

After the close of poll, poll clerks should take down all the signs and tidy the room.  If instructed to do so, polling station staff may also be required to dismantle the polling station furniture and return it to its original state.  

A full list of poll clerk duties can be viewed below:

Duties of the poll clerk

Poll clerks do not have the responsibilities of the Presiding Officer but they must know all the procedures for voting and how to deal with any problems.

The poll clerk’s main duties are to:

  • Comply with the instructions of the local returning officer and the presiding officer
  • Assist with the layout of the polling station and prepare for the opening of the poll
  • Be polite and professional in dealing with voters, candidates and agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers
  • Act impartially at all times
  • Check that electors are eligible to vote in this election and at this polling station
  • Check and mark electors’ elector numbers in the register of electors
  • Write electors’ elector numbers against the number of the ballot paper issued in the corresponding number list
  • Issue ballot papers to voters when directed by the Presiding Officer, ensuring that they bear the official mark
  • Ensure that voters cast their votes in secret
  • Maintain the secrecy of the ballot at all times
  • Answer voters’ questions, where appropriate, in a friendly and professional way
  • Help with any other polling station duties on the instruction of the Presiding Officer
  • Assist the Presiding Officer to complete necessary procedures after the close of poll

After the close of poll, poll clerks should take down all the signs and tidy the room.  If instructed to do so, polling station staff may also be required to dismantle the polling station furniture and return it to its original state.  

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What does a count assistant do?

The role of the count assistant is not difficult, but duties are undertaken in a pressurised environment and the greatest of care has to be taken to ensure that mistakes are not made.

Count assistants must:

  • Have read and agree to the terms of the Secrecy Provision
  • Act impartially at all times and respect confidentiality of material handled
  • Refrain from engaging in conversations with candidates, agents, councillors or guests 

Duties:

Count assistants will work in teams of varying sizes as designated by the returning officer.

Verification

  • Count the number of ballot papers in a ballot box
  • Re-count if required

Count

  • Divide ballot papers into votes for individual candidates and count them using the method designated by the returning officer
  • Re-count if required

 

The length of time a Count takes will depend on the size and nature of the election and whether re-counts are required. You must be prepared to stay as long as it takes, and should  bring your own food in case it is a lengthy process. If the Count takes place immediately after  the close of poll, you will start working late into the evening and potentially into the early hours of the morning. You will be given adequate breaks and refreshments will be provided.

The returning officer is not permitted to employ anyone who is/or has carried out duties on behalf of any political party or candidate at the election. All staff will be required to sign their agreement to maintain the secrecy of the poll.

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