Handbook for polling station staff

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1 Handbook for polling station staff Supporting the referendum on the voting system for UK Parliamentary elections and the Northern Ireland Assembly and local government elections

2 Translations and other formats For information on obtaining this publication in another language or in a large-print or Braille version, please contact the Electoral Commission: Tel: Handbook for polling station staff PVSR/NI11G001E The Electoral Commission 2011

3 Contents 1 Introduction 1 2 The referendum, the elections and the polling station team 3 The referendum 3 Northern Ireland Assembly and local government elections 3 Roles and responsibilities of the polling station team 4 Duties of the Presiding Officer 4 Senior Presiding Officer duties 5 Duties of the Poll Clerk 5 3 Before polling day 7 Training for polling station staff 7 Locating the polling station 7 Delivery and collection of the ballot boxes 7 4 Polling day: before the polls open 8 Arriving at the polling station 8 What happens if the key-holder does not attend? 8 Checking supplies and materials 8 Standards of appearance 9 Polling station layout 9 Presiding Officer s table 10 Signs and notices 10 Notice of ballot papers issued 11 Who may be present in the polling station? 11 Sealing the ballot boxes 13 Some last-minute checks 14 5 Polling day: opening and conducting the polls 15 Opening the polling station 15 Summary of the voting procedure 15 Stage one checking the voter 16 Stage two issuing the ballot papers 18 Stage three voting 19 Complaints 20 Certificates of employment 20 Maintenance of the polling place 21 Polling station log 21 6 The close of poll 22 Procedures 22 Completing the paperwork 22 The ballot paper accounts 23 The rest of the paperwork 24 Packing materials at the polling station 24 Transporting referendum and election materials to the verification and count centre/collection point 24 Appendices Appendix 1 Equality issues 25 Appendix 2 Dealing with problems on the register of electors 28 Appendix 3 Procedure for postal and proxy voters 30 Appendix 4a The prescribed questions 32 Appendix 4b Tendered ballot papers (pink) 35 Appendix 5 Security at the polling station 37 Appendix 6 Procedure for dealing with personation 39 Appendix 7 Guidance on polling agents, the media and exit polls 40 Appendix 8 Health and safety 42 Appendix 9 Frequently asked questions for polling station staff on polling day 43 Appendix 10 Polling station set-up checklist 45 Appendix 11 Presiding Officer s pack 47 Appendix 12 Close of poll packing instructions 48

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5 1 Introduction This handbook is designed to assist polling station staff working at the referendum on the voting system for UK Parliamentary elections as well as on the Northern Ireland Assembly and local government elections on 5 May It describes the procedures to be followed and how to deal with any issues that may arise. The role of polling station staff is vital in ensuring that voters, campaigners, candidates and agents have confidence in the election process. You will receive training on your role, but you must still read this handbook carefully in advance of polling day to ensure that you are familiar with all the processes that are described in it. It is essential that all voters receive the same high-quality experience when voting at a polling station, irrespective of where in Northern Ireland they are voting, and we know that you will do everything you can to make this happen. Graham Shields, the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland, is the Counting Officer for the referendum and Returning Officer for both the Assembly and local government elections. He has appointed Deputy Counting Officers (referred to in this handbook as Deputy Returning Officers) to act on his behalf for the referendum. They will also have been appointed for the Assembly and local government elections. You will be directly responsible to the Deputy Returning Officer. Deputy Returning Officers Mid Ulster and North Antrim Rae Kirk Tel: Post: Ballymena Area Electoral Office 122 Broughshane Street Ballymena BT43 6EE Newry & Armagh and Upper Bann Amanda Mason Tel: Post: Banbridge A Area Electoral Office 52 Bridge Street Banbridge BT32 3JU Lagan Valley and South Down Majella Morgan Tel: Post: Banbridge B Area Electoral Office 52 Bridge Street Banbridge BT32 3JU Belfast South and Belfast West Maureen Carroll Tel: Post: Belfast Area Electoral Office 15 Church Street Belfast BT1 1ER Handbook for polling station staff 1

6 East Londonderry and Foyle Patricia Murphy Tel: Post: Londonderry Area Electoral Office 20A Queen Street Londonderry BT48 7EQ East Antrim, South Antrim and Belfast North Janet Goodall Tel: Post: Newtownabbey Area Electoral Office 1 3 Portland Avenue Newtownabbey BT36 5EY North Down, Strangford and Belfast East Jeanette Murray Tel: Post: Newtownards Area Electoral Office 2B Regent Street Newtownards BT23 4HL Fermanagh & South Tyrone and West Tyrone Martin Fox Tel: Post: Omagh Area Electoral Office 21 Kelvin Avenue Omagh BT78 1ER 2 Handbook for polling station staff

7 2 The referendum, the elections and the polling station team On 5 May 2011, a referendum on the voting system for UK Parliamentary elections will take place together with elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly and to local councils. Voters will, if eligible, receive three ballot papers and will be required to put each ballot paper in a separate ballot box. The ballot papers and ballot boxes have been colour coordinated to help voters: light grey for the referendum, white for the Northern Ireland Assembly election, and buff for the local government election. The referendum In a referendum electors vote yes or no in response to the referendum question. Voters have one vote and should place a cross in either the yes or no box on the ballot paper. Example of a UK Parliamentary voting system referendum ballot paper (grey) Northern Ireland Assembly and local government elections Both the Assembly and the local government elections in Northern Ireland are conducted using the single transferable vote electoral system. Electors record their vote by placing a 1 opposite the name of the candidate of their first choice and then a 2 opposite the name of the candidate of their second choice, and so on. They may vote for as many or as few candidates as they wish. They may, if they wish, only place a 1 against the candidate of their first choice and leave the remainder blank, or they may place their order of preference (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on) against the name of each candidate. Example of an Assembly election ballot paper (white) Mark order of preference in space below 2 CANDIDATE A A Party 3 1 CANDIDATE B Independent CANDIDATE C C Party 4 CANDIDATE D D Party Handbook for polling station staff 3

8 Example of a local government election ballot paper (buff) Mark order of preference in space below 3 CANDIDATE A A Party 1 2 CANDIDATE B Independent CANDIDATE C C Party 4 CANDIDATE D D Party Roles and responsibilities of the polling station team The role of polling station staff is to ensure that all voters have a good voting experience and are able to cast their vote in secret, free from influence and in a calm atmosphere. Both the Presiding Officer and Poll Clerks must be able to carry out each other s duties if required. However, Presiding Officers have an overall responsibility for the polling station and carry out an additional supervisory role. Also, in law, there are a number of duties that only Presiding Officers can carry out. These are: requesting that a police officer remove someone from a polling station (see Appendix 5) asking the prescribed questions (see Appendix 4a) limiting the number of accredited observers present at any one time (see Chapter 4) 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 Deputy Returning Officer ensure the secrecy and security of the ballot, including by handing out copies of the secrecy requirements to any candidates, campaigners and agents in attendance organise the layout of the polling station and liaise, if required, with the key-holder of the building instruct and supervise the work of Poll Clerks open and close the polling station on time maintain order in the polling station be polite and professional in dealing with voters, candidates, 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 tendered ballot papers ensure that the proper procedure for voting is followed, ensuring that the corresponding number lists are marked correctly ensure that all ballot papers issued bear the official mark deal with special voting procedures as required supervise polling agents complete and display, near to the entrance of the building at the times specified, the notice of ballot papers issued decide, in any doubtful case, on the validity of the photographic identification produced by a voter manage the attendance of those entitled to be present in the polling station, e.g. candidates and their agents, referendum agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers, and ensure that they do not interfere with the voting process keep the polling station neat and tidy 4 Handbook for polling station staff

9 ensure that checks are made of each polling booth at least every hour and that any material that should not be there is removed be responsible for all aspects of health and safety within the polling station, including recording full details of any accidents where temporary ramps are being used, ensure that they remain in place throughout the day record in the polling station log all significant events such as the opening of the poll, the attendance of polling agents or candidates, the occurrence of any incident or unusual activity, etc. ensure that all staff sign the staff attendance sheet ensure that at the close of poll the ballot boxes, documentation and equipment are dealt with in accordance with the instructions in this handbook Senior Presiding Officer duties At some locations the Presiding Officer may be appointed as a Senior Presiding Officer. In addition to the normal duties as a Presiding Officer, each Senior Presiding Officer has duties in relation to the common areas of the building used for taking the polls as well as a number of liaison duties. A Senior Presiding Officer has no authority to direct any Presiding Officer. All Presiding Officers are accountable only to the Deputy Returning Officer. Each Deputy Returning Officer will appoint a number of polling station inspectors who will visit polling stations on polling day to carry out checks and to deal with any issues raised by you or others. The main duties of a Senior Presiding Officer are to: act as Presiding Officer for their own polling station carry out before the opening of the poll, and at least four times during the day, a check of the common area of the building used for taking the poll to ensure that: there are no health and safety issues all access routes are open and unlocked, and any ramps and direction notices are in place the entrances to any car park and to the building are not being obstructed by campaigners or party representatives liaise with the building supervisor as required ensure that the premises are closed to electors arriving after 10pm liaise with the Deputy Returning Officer on any issue relating to the use of the building as a polling place if asked, provide advice and assistance to other Presiding Officers record in the polling station log for their polling station all actions taken in respect of the above in addition to all actions taken in their role as a Presiding Officer ensure that the building supervisor signs the staff attendance sheet 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 Deputy 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, campaigners, candidates and agents, representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers act impartially at all times check the photographic identification of electors and refer any doubtful cases to the Presiding Officer for decision check that electors are eligible to vote at the referendum and elections and at this polling station Handbook for polling station staff 5

10 check and mark voters elector numbers in the register of electors write electors elector numbers against the numbers of the ballot papers issued in the corresponding number lists issue ballot papers to voters as 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 keep the polling station neat and tidy ensure that all signs and notices are clear, visible and remain in place throughout the day 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 When issuing ballot papers, the Presiding Officer will typically issue the referendum papers and mark the relevant corresponding number list, while a Poll Clerk will issue the Assembly and local government ballot papers and mark the relevant corresponding number lists. One Poll Clerk will mark the polling station register and another will supervise the ballot boxes and the polling agents. This is based on the usual responsibilities within polling stations, but the duties are interchangeable. Further details will be provided at the training session. 6 Handbook for polling station staff

11 3 Before polling day Training for polling station staff Polling station staff will need to be fully briefed about the referendum and elections and cannot rely solely on past experience. Neither should polling station staff rely only on this handbook. The Deputy Returning Officer will provide training to all Senior Presiding Officers, Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks and they will expect all staff to attend. Locating the polling station Do not assume that a polling station will be in the same place as it has been for previous elections. Your letter of appointment tells you your polling station and its address. All members of the polling station team should know the location of the polling station before polling day. Where instructed to do so by the Deputy Returning Officer, Presiding Officers should visit their polling station ahead of polling day. Some premises may contain two or more polling stations. If so, Presiding Officers, where instructed to do so by the Deputy Returning Officer, should coordinate any visit to the premises prior to polling day with the other Presiding Officers. The key-holder will appreciate this and it will enable colleagues to discuss any issues relating to the entrance, exit and layout for each of the polling stations. If possible, it may also be useful to meet up at the polling place with other members of the team before polling day to find out what facilities are available and to discuss what supplies and refreshments may be needed. The key-holder should open the building no later than 6.30am on polling day. If the appropriate person will not be available to open the building, Presiding Officers should make arrangements to pick up the keys in advance of polling day. If this is the case, Presiding Officers should ensure that they have all the relevant keys, including any gate keys, and make sure that they have the key-holder s contact details readily to hand in case of any problems. Polling station staff should consider how long it will take to get to the polling station on the morning of polling day and factor this into their plans. Arriving in good time will enable staff to ensure that the polling station is set up in an appropriate manner before the polls open at 7am. Polling station staff should ensure that they take sufficient food and drink to last for the whole of polling day, as they will not be able to leave the polling place while the polls are open. Delivery and collection of the ballot boxes The Deputy Returning Officer will notify Presiding Officers of the arrangements for the collection of the ballot boxes together with all relevant referendum and election materials. Most Presiding Officers will need to collect two boxes for their polling station: one for the Northern Ireland Assembly election and one for the local government election. The ballot box for the Northern Ireland Assembly election will have a white label and the ballot box for the local government election will have a buff-coloured label. You should check the ballot box numbers and the name of the polling place shown on the label before leaving the collection point on the morning of the poll. The referendum ballot box will be delivered directly to the polling station. Handbook for polling station staff 7

12 4 Polling day: before the polls open The polling station must open at 7am. Do not be late. You must inform the Deputy Returning Officer as soon as possible if you encounter any problems that may prevent you from opening at 7am. Arriving at the polling station Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks must arrive at the polling station not later than 6.30am. Make sure that you allow sufficient time to get to the polling station do not be late. Polling station staff unavoidably detained or unable to attend the polling station must contact the Deputy Returning Officer immediately. Presiding Officers must check that watches or clocks are accurate to ensure that the polling station is open on time. Remember to sign in on the staff attendance sheet when you arrive at your polling station. If you do not do so, your pay is likely to be delayed. The building supervisor must sign the staff attendance sheet held by the Senior Presiding Officer. A list of staff appointed to each polling station will be enclosed in the Northern Ireland Assembly ballot box. If any staff do not attend, the Presiding Officer should contact the Deputy Returning Officer without delay. What happens if the key-holder does not attend? First, try to make contact, either by telephone or by sending a member of the polling station team to their home. If access cannot be gained, contact the Deputy Returning Officer to inform them of the situation and for further instructions. If necessary, set up a temporary polling station. There may be sufficient space at the entrance to the building, or even outside it. In some cases, Presiding Officers have used the back of a car. Whatever the situation, voters must be able to vote in secret from 7am onwards. Keep any agents and observers in attendance informed of whatever arrangements you make. Checking supplies and materials There will be one ballot box each for the referendum, Assembly election and local government election. The polling booths and the referendum ballot box will normally have been delivered to the premises beforehand. The Presiding Officer will be responsible for the transportation of the other two ballot boxes and the referendum and election materials. The Deputy Returning Officer will advise Presiding Officers of the arrangements. The ballot boxes will contain or be accompanied by: the electoral register and lists of proxies and postal voters three sets of ordinary ballot papers, one each for: the referendum (light grey) the Northern Ireland Assembly election (white) the local government election (buff) three Braille selector device keys one for each poll three corresponding number lists, colour coded to match each set of ballot papers three sets of tendered ballot papers (pink), one for each poll three ballot paper accounts: light grey for the referendum, white for the Assembly election, and buff for the local government election 8 Handbook for polling station staff

13 three large-print ballot papers (colour coded) one for each poll two selector devices staff badges lists of polling agents for each poll (if any) list of sub-agents (if any Assembly election only) light for polling compartment x2 the Presiding Officer s pack (see Appendix 11 for contents) wallet of pens, ballot box seals, etc. certificates of employment for staff x3 (not in all cases) laminated large-print hand-held ballot papers one for each poll polling station placemat laminated Ballot box number poster (rolled with placemat) laminated poster for Ballot box table staff (rolled with placemat) poster Notice of ballot papers issued x4 list of staff staff attendance sheet Referendum ballot box label (light grey) list of streets allocated to that polling station roll of security tape (if supplied) Take care when lifting the materials or equipment; they may be heavy (see Appendix 8 for information on health and safety). The Presiding Officer should check that the ballot papers are the correct ones for the relevant voting area, constituency and local government district electoral area, and that there are no obvious errors in the numbering of the papers. Standards of appearance The atmosphere in the polling station should be business-like and friendly, and polling station staff should dress accordingly. However, staff will be present at the polling station all day and should consider their personal comfort. Remember that polling station staff are representatives of the Deputy Returning Officer and should act impartially at all times. Any badges, slogans or colours that might bring the impartiality of the polling station staff into question must not be worn. All staff must wear the grey staff name badges enclosed in the ballot box. Polling station layout The first job on arrival will be to set up the polling station, unless this has already been done for you. The layout of the room is important. Poor layout could cause unnecessary confusion and access difficulties. Appendix 10 provides a checklist covering polling station set-up and the display of notices. Even if the polling station has already been set up for you, you should still check that it has been set up properly using the checklist in Appendix 10. The following equipment will have been delivered to the polling station before the day of the poll or will have been made available for you by the building supervisor: two polling screens (not all polling stations) one to be set up and one for reserve if the polling station becomes busy one ballot box (for referendum votes please label with the light grey label enclosed in the ballot box you collected on the morning of the poll) large A2 laminated Polling station poster laminated Wheelchair access poster four tables six chairs ramp(s) (in some locations) If anything is missing, please contact the building supervisor or the Area Electoral Office. Building supervisors may already have arranged the room, particularly if the Deputy Returning Officer or Presiding Officer has given them instructions on the layout of the polling station in advance. However, it is possible that the polling station staff will have to set up the room or rearrange the furniture. Some polling Handbook for polling station staff 9

14 booths are heavy; be careful when erecting or moving them (see Appendix 8 for advice on health and safety issues). The layout must work for the voter and contribute to the smooth running of the polling station. In particular, the needs of voters with a range of disabilities must be considered. For example: Are the ballot boxes clearly labelled and at an accessible height for all voters? Can a wheelchair user easily get around the polling station and its surrounding areas? Is the low-level polling booth in the most appropriate position for wheelchair access? Are the notices accessible for all voters? Are the polling booths positioned to make best use of the available light? Is the portable light fixed to the ordinary fullheight compartment that is closest to the Presiding Officer s table? Are the polling agents and observers positioned so that they do not interfere with the proceedings, but can still observe proceedings and can hear the name and number of voters when called out? Is the notice Political party representatives/ Referendum polling agents fixed to the front of the table so that it is clear to voters? In all cases: Use the checklist in Appendix 10 when setting up the polling station or checking that it has been set up correctly. Make sure that polling booths are not placed so that people outside can see how voters are marking their ballot papers. Arrange the ballot boxes and polling booths to ensure that they are accessible to all voters, yet fully visible to polling station staff. Position the issuing table and the ballot boxes in such a way that prevents any voter from leaving the polling station without passing you and the ballot boxes. 10 Handbook for polling station staff Consider what arrangements you would need to make to be able to accommodate and deal with voters during busy periods. Have at hand the Area Electoral Office contact details and follow any escalation procedures as instructed by the Deputy Returning Officer should any issues arise during polling day. Remember that in a room where there is more than one polling station, the ballot boxes must be kept separate. Otherwise voters from one polling station may mistakenly put their ballot papers in the wrong ballot box and the ballot paper accounts for each of the two polling stations will not tally. Even with the ballot boxes kept separate, staff should remain vigilant as voters may still get confused as to which ballot box they should be using. Presiding Officer s table The only items that should be on the Presiding Officer s table are: the three ballot boxes, clearly labelled with the name of each poll and colour coordinated: light grey for the referendum, white for the Assembly election, and buff for the local government election three sets of ballot papers, one for each poll: light grey for the referendum, white for the Assembly election, and buff for the local government election have the papers with the lowest serial numbers on the table to start with the electoral register the corresponding number list for each poll the polling station placemat pens, rulers, etc. Envelope C attached to the front of the table for completed comment cards blank registration forms in pre-paid envelopes for people who are not registered this handbook and the polling station quick guide Signs and notices Think what each sign and notice is for when putting it up. Walk the route the voter is expected to follow, checking all signs and

15 notices. Some signs and notices are directional while others provide information for voters. Ensure that they are positioned so that they can be read by all voters, including those in wheelchairs. The large laminated Polling station and Wheelchair access signs, the polling station strips, Way in, Way out, Alternative entrance signs, and direction arrows are to be displayed as necessary both outside and inside the polling place (i.e. the building) to guide voters to the entrance and then to the correct polling station within the building. The Notice to voters posters are to be displayed near to the entrance of the polling station. The Need help or information/no mobile phones poster and the easy-read/language poster are to be displayed where voters will see them as they enter the polling station. The Acceptable photographic identification poster is to be displayed where voters will see it before reaching the Presiding Officer s table. The Ballot box number poster and poster for Ballot box table staff (laminated) are to be displayed, if yours is the only polling station in the room, outside the door where it can be readily seen by voters or, if there is more than one polling station in the room, the posters are to be displayed prominently near to your table so that they can be seen by voters even when there is a queue waiting for a ballot paper. The notice Voting on Thursday 5 May 2011 is to be displayed both outside every polling station near the entrance to the building and in every compartment of every polling station. A large sample copy of each of the ballot papers should also be displayed inside the polling station, ideally in a well-lit location where voters can easily see them before being issued with their ballot papers. An enlarged hand-held copy of each of the ballot papers, marked sample, will also be supplied by the Deputy Returning Officer. These can be given to voters who are partially sighted to take into the polling booth for reference when marking their ballot papers. Make sure that there are no posters, leaflets or materials displayed in or on the premises that might be construed as supporting the views of any party, candidate or campaigner involved in the elections or referendum. If any such materials are found, they must be removed or covered up. Notice of ballot papers issued At 12 noon, 5pm and 9pm, or as soon as practicable thereafter, you are to complete a notice of ballot papers issued. You must enter on the notice the total eligible electorate for the elections/referendum at your polling station and the number of ballot papers issued for each poll up to each of the specified times. You must write clearly in black ink. The notice is to be displayed at a place where it can be clearly seen close to the entrance to the building from 12 noon until the close of poll when it can be destroyed. A spare copy is provided for use as required. Important: Just before each of the specified times you should record the number of ballot papers issued in the polling station log. Who may be present in the polling station? The law specifically provides for certain persons to be present in polling stations (in addition to polling station staff and voters). These are: the Returning Officer/Counting Officer and his staff the Deputy Returning Officer and their staff candidates, election agents and sub-agents campaigners and referendum agents polling agents police officers on duty at the polling place representatives of the Electoral Commission accredited observers persons under the age of 18 who accompany voters companions of disabled voters Handbook for polling station staff 11

16 The Returning Officer/Counting Officer and his staff The Returning Officer/Counting Officer and his staff may visit during the course of the day. This may be to carry out duties such as delivering additional equipment or carrying out an inspection of the polling station. Candidates, election agents and sub-agents Candidates at the Assembly and the local government elections, their election agents and sub-agents (Assembly election only) have the right to enter and to remain in a polling station to observe voting but they must not disrupt voting or attempt to canvass voters. Campaigners and referendum agents A permitted participant (campaigner) may appoint an individual to act as a referendum agent. Referendum agents have the right to enter and to remain in a polling station but they must not disrupt voting or attempt to canvass voters. Polling agents Candidates and referendum agents may appoint polling agents to work on their behalf on polling day in polling stations. Polling agents have the right to enter and remain in the polling station and to observe voting. The main role of a polling agent is to detect personation that is, people voting illegally in the name of another voter. Not more than one polling agent may be admitted at the same time to a polling station on behalf of the same candidate or referendum agent. The Deputy Returning Officer will have provided Presiding Officers with a list of any polling agents/sub-agents appointed to attend at the polling station. Polling agents will be required to prove their identity by producing one of the forms of photographic identification that can be used by voters. They should be given a copy of the instructions for polling agents. canvass voters in the polling station. If they do wear a rosette, it should be plain and not refer to a specific candidate or party. They have the right to observe the preparation and opening of the polling station and its closure and may add their seal to the ballot boxes at the close of poll (though not at poll opening). During polling hours, polling agents in attendance should be placed at a separate table that is close enough to observe and hear the proceedings, but not in a position that would compromise the secrecy of the ballot. Police officers on duty at the polling place Police officers on duty may be present in the polling station at any time, although it is the Presiding Officer s duty to maintain order in the polling station (see Appendix 5 for information on security at the polling station). Representatives of the Electoral Commission and accredited observers Representatives of the Electoral Commission and other individuals accredited through the Commission s official observer scheme are entitled to attend all polling station proceedings. They do not need to give advance notification of where they intend to observe, but every observer must carry and show photographic identification and should not be allowed to observe proceedings without this (see examples below). The status of individuals seeking to gain entry to polling stations as observers can always be checked with the Deputy Returning Officer. Example of ID issued to Commission representatives (pink) Polling agents will wish to note on their own copy of the register of electors who has voted, but they cannot take this marked copy of the register out of the polling station until after the close of poll. They must not interfere with the voting process and must not campaign or 12 Handbook for polling station staff

17 Example of ID issued to accredited observers (silver) taken, this should be recorded in a polling station log. Presiding Officers should record the details of any accredited observers or Commission representatives who attend at their polling station in the polling station log. Electoral observation is a legitimate and valuable part of the electoral process, and care should be taken not to hinder or obstruct the conduct of the observation. Both Commission representatives and accredited observers agree to abide by a Code of conduct which includes an agreement that they will not interfere with any proceedings. Presiding Officers may ask observers (but not Commission representatives) to leave the polling station, but only if they are: breaching or attempting to breach the secrecy of the ballot knowingly obstructing the polling process asking voters about their voting preference If an observer is removed from the polling station, the Presiding Officer must provide a note to the observer stating the reasons why they have been removed. Presiding Officers should also record any such incidents in the polling station log and notify the Deputy Returning Officer as soon as possible. Any observer removed in the circumstances above is not entitled to re-enter the polling station for the remainder of the poll. In the case of overcrowding, Presiding Officers are entitled to limit the number of accredited observers (but not Commission representatives) present inside a polling station for a specified time such as for 30 or 60 minutes. However, it is important to note that no Presiding Officer is entitled to bar all observers from the entire process, only to limit the number of observers present at any one time. When such action is Persons under the age of 18 who accompany voters Persons under the age of 18 may accompany voters into the polling station to observe the voting procedure. Presiding Officers can limit the number of those under 18 allowed in the polling station at any one time if they consider their attendance to be impeding the proceedings in any way. Companions of disabled voters Although many disabled voters will be able to vote without assistance, some will not, and those who cannot are entitled to bring someone with them to help them to cast their vote. When dealing with disabled voters who need the assistance of a companion, make sure that you address and respond to the voter and not only their companion. See Appendix 1 for further details, including what assistance the Presiding Officer may provide. Sealing the ballot boxes The Presiding Officer should close and seal all three ballot boxes a few minutes before 7am, after having shown to all present that they are empty. Ballot boxes vary in design, as does the method of sealing them. Whatever method is used, make sure that all the ballot boxes are properly secured. At this stage, candidates, election agents, polling agents or referendum agents must not be allowed to affix their seals to the ballot boxes: their seals may only be attached at the close of poll. Handbook for polling station staff 13

18 Some last-minute checks Just before the polling station is opened, take a few moments to double-check that everything is ready. Make sure that the ballot papers, corresponding number lists, tendered ballot papers and other official documentation are safely out of reach of voters. Tendered ballot papers should be kept in their envelopes until needed, to ensure that they are not issued in error. Tendered ballot papers are easily identified as they are a different colour (pink) to the ordinary ballot papers. Information on the circumstances in which tendered ballot papers should be issued can be found in Appendix 4b. Ballot papers are supplied in books where they can be detached as they are issued. If you have not already done so, check that the ballot papers are in the correct numerical sequence, that the numbers match those pre-printed on the corresponding number list and that you have the ballot papers with the lowest numbers ready to be issued first. This will save a lot of accounting problems at the close of poll. Check that there are two pens in each compartment. Check that the ballot papers bear the unique identifying mark on the back and that the pre-printed official mark is also present. Example of a ballot paper reverse Ballot paper number Unique identifying mark Referendum on the voting system for United Kingdom Parliamentary elections [name of voting area] [date] 14 Handbook for polling station staff

19 5 Polling day: opening and conducting the polls The hours of the polls are from 7am until 10pm. Opening the polling station There may be a number of electors waiting for the polling station to open. Greet them and invite them inside as soon as it is 7am. Do not issue ballot papers before 7am. Summary of the voting procedure For the majority of voters who come to the polling station, the process for voting will be straightforward. The following procedure should be followed in those circumstances: Stage one checking the voter Greet electors, ask them to confirm their name and address, and check that they are at the correct polling station and are eligible to vote and at which poll. Ask for photographic ID check that it is an acceptable document and that the voter is the person in the photograph. Mark the register of electors against the elector number of the elector: EITHER by placing a straight line between the elector number and the surname of the elector if the elector is voting at all three polls OR, if they are not entitled to all three ballot papers, by placing the appropriate letter between the elector number and the surname of the elector on the register, i.e. A for Assembly, L for local government or R for referendum, to indicate which poll(s) they have been issued a ballot paper for. Call out the name and number of the elector (so that polling agents, if present, can hear the details clearly). Stage two issuing the ballot papers Write the elector number (including the polling district reference letter(s) if not pre-printed) on the corresponding number lists next to the ballot paper numbers to be issued. Ensure that the ballot papers include a pre-printed official mark (i.e. a barcode). Fold the ballot papers in two and then hand them to the voter unfolded. Stage three voting The voter marks the ballot papers in the privacy of the polling booth. Prior to the voter placing the ballot papers in the ballot boxes, they should fold the ballot papers and show the ballot paper number and unique identifying mark to the Poll Clerk, who will direct the voter to place the ballot papers in the corresponding colour-coded ballot boxes. Say goodbye and thank the voter as they leave the polling station. The appendices in this handbook show what to do when something out of the ordinary occurs, for example establishing entitlement to vote and dealing with proxy voters. Presiding Officers should read these sections prior to polling day in order to be prepared. Remember to follow all stages of the process carefully or the voter may inadvertently be disenfranchised. Handbook for polling station staff 15

20 Stage one checking the voter Greet voters as they approach the table. Most voters bring their poll card with them to show to the Poll Clerk even though this is not a requirement for voters. If they have a poll card, check their elector number and then offer the card back to the voter. If they refuse the card it can be put in Envelope I. The Poll Clerk must: confirm the voter s name and address and check that they are on the register of electors and eligible to vote ask for photographic ID check that it is an acceptable document and that the voter is the person in the photograph draw a straight line against (but not through) their entry on the register of electors if they are eligible to vote at all three polls if the elector is not entitled to vote at all three polls, write the appropriate letter between the elector number and the surname of the elector on the register to indicate which poll(s) they have been issued a ballot paper for (i.e. A for Assembly, L for local government or R for referendum) read out the voter s name, elector number and polling district reference from the register of electors (this is a safeguard against personation) Together with their name, most electors just have their elector number and address. These electors are eligible to vote at any election and at the referendum. Some electors will also have a letter or a date preceding their name. These letters indicate their eligibility to vote at certain elections and referendums and the date indicates when they will attain voting age. As the franchise is different for the referendum and the Assembly and local government elections, it is essential that entitlement to vote is carefully checked before a ballot paper is issued. To facilitate this process, the electoral register will show in bold italics the names of those electors who are entitled to vote only at the Assembly and local government elections, but not at the referendum. Whose names are on the register of electors? The register of electors will contain the names of all electors allocated to the polling station. A person can only be issued with ballot papers if: their name appears on the register of electors or on the list of proxies or has been added following a direction from the Deputy Returning Officer the name is not scored through or marked as having already voted the voter has produced an acceptable form of photographic identification (see below) AND is eligible (see below) 16 Handbook for polling station staff

21 Who can vote at the referendum and/or at the elections? Letters/prefix Referendum ballot paper Assembly and local government ballot papers No letters Yes Yes Date on or before Yes (unless any Yes (unless any polling day additional letters show additional letters show they are not eligible) they are not eligible) Date after polling day No No A No No E Yes No F Yes No G No Yes K No Yes L Yes Yes Acceptable photographic identification Only the documents shown on the polling station placemat can be accepted. They are: an electoral identity card a British or Irish passport or a passport issued by a government of a member state of the European Union the photographic part of any driving licence (full or provisional) issued by the United Kingdom, Ireland or a European Economic Area country (see placemat for details) a Senior SmartPass a 60+ SmartPass a Blind Person s SmartPass a War Disabled SmartPass The document produced does not have to be current, as long as you are satisfied that the photograph is of the person seeking to vote. When examining the document produced you should ask yourself three questions: Is the document on the list of acceptable documents? Is it genuine? Am I satisfied that the voter is the person shown on the document? Provided that you are satisfied on all three points and the person is on the register and meets the requirements above, you should issue the ballot papers. It does not matter that the document produced is out of date or that any address on it differs from the address on the register. Minor variations in the name may also be ignored provided that you are satisfied that the photograph is of the person registered as a voter. Normally the Poll Clerk will check the ID document produced. If the Poll Clerk is not satisfied, the matter should be referred to the Presiding Officer. If the Presiding Officer is not satisfied with the document produced, they should ask the statutory questions (see Appendix 4a). If the document is acceptable, but you still have doubts (for example, if a woman produces an acceptable identification document on which her surname is not the name on the register), the Presiding Officer should ask the statutory questions. If the person answers the questions satisfactorily, ballot paper(s) must be issued. If the person fails to answer the questions satisfactorily, ballot paper(s) must not be issued. Handbook for polling station staff 17

22 Stage two issuing the ballot papers Ballot papers are numbered and should match the numbers pre-printed on the corresponding number lists. Ballot papers must be issued in strict numerical order commencing with the lowest number in each batch. Otherwise, problems will be experienced at the close of poll when completing the ballot paper accounts. If the elector is shown on the register of electors as being eligible to vote and has, if necessary, answered the prescribed questions satisfactorily (see Appendix 4a for the prescribed questions), then the voter must be issued with the relevant ballot papers. The Poll Clerk and Presiding Officer with the ballot papers must: allocate the relevant ballot papers ensure that the ballot papers to be issued bear the unique identifying mark and official mark fold the ballot papers and then hand them to the voter unfolded The Presiding Officer will issue the referendum ballot paper and a Poll Clerk will issue the Northern Ireland Assembly and local government ballot papers. The Presiding Officer should explain that the light grey paper is the referendum paper and should be marked by placing an X against Yes or No on the ballot paper. The Assembly (white) ballot paper and local government (buff) ballot paper should be marked by indicating order of preference ( 1 for first choice candidate, 2 for second choice candidate, 3 for third choice candidate, etc.). Voters can vote for as many or as few candidates as they wish. The Poll Clerk and Presiding Officer with the corresponding number lists must write the elector s elector number against the numbers of the ballot papers that are being issued on the corresponding number lists. Most electors who come to your polling station will be eligible to vote at the referendum and the elections. However, as the franchise is different for the referendum and the elections, the following circumstances may arise. What happens if an elector is not entitled to receive all of the ballot papers? The Presiding Officer should issue the relevant ballot paper(s) and mark the register of electors accordingly, indicating which ballot paper(s) have been issued by writing A (Assembly), L (local government) or R (referendum) on the register between the elector number and the name. The elector s elector number should then be entered onto the relevant corresponding number list(s). What happens if the ballot papers do not bear the unique identifying mark? All ballot papers must bear a unique identifying mark on the back of the ballot paper. This will normally be a printed barcode and a sequence of letters and numbers. The Deputy Returning Officer will notify Presiding Officers at the training session as to what form the unique identifying mark will take. If all the ballot papers are missing the unique identifying mark, the Presiding Officer should notify the Deputy Returning Officer immediately. If only some ballot papers are missing the mark, the Presiding Officer should only issue those ballot papers that contain the unique identifying mark, and should also notify the Deputy Returning Officer of the situation. What happens if the ballot papers do not contain the official mark? The official mark will be pre-printed on the ballot papers. The Deputy Returning Officer will indicate what the official mark will be at the training session. Every ballot paper must bear an official mark. Any ballot paper that is lacking the official mark will be rejected at the count. 18 Handbook for polling station staff

23 If the ballot papers should, but do not, contain a pre-printed official mark as indicated by the Deputy Returning Officer, the Presiding Officer should contact the Deputy Returning Officer immediately. What if the elector refuses a particular ballot paper before it has been handed over? If an elector refuses any of the ballot papers before they have been handed over, the Presiding Officer should issue the requested ballot papers and mark the register of electors accordingly, indicating which ballot papers have been issued using A (Assembly election), L (local government election) or R (referendum). The elector s elector number should then be entered onto the relevant corresponding number list(s). The voter may return to the polling station later on polling day to request the vote or votes previously refused, and so following this procedure is important. If the elector does return to the polling station later in the day, the corresponding number list(s) should be marked but only the ballot paper or papers for the poll or polls that were previously refused should be handed over to the voter. The Presiding Officer should mark the register of electors to show that all ballot papers have now been issued to that elector. What if a ballot paper has already been handed over and the elector decides they do not want it? Once a ballot paper has been handed over to the elector it cannot be cancelled. The Presiding Officer should therefore try to convince the elector to place the unmarked ballot paper in the appropriate ballot box. If the voter refuses to do this, the Presiding Officer should take the ballot paper and place it in the corresponding colour-coded envelope, marked accordingly ( H-A for the Assembly election, H-L for the local government election, and H-R for the referendum), and make a note on the appropriate ballot account that the paper was issued but not used. The Presiding Officer should not re-issue this ballot paper. Stage three voting Voters must mark the ballot papers in the privacy of the polling booth and then re-fold the ballot papers so that no one may see the way they have voted. Voters should show the ballot paper number and the unique identifying mark on the back of the ballot papers to the Poll Clerk before placing them in the appropriate ballot boxes. What is the procedure if a voter makes a mistake and spoils a ballot paper? Do not issue tendered ballot papers. Sometimes voters do make mistakes, e.g. by making a mark against the wrong option or candidate. The Presiding Officer must take the spoilt ballot paper(s) and write cancelled on it/them before placing it/them in the corresponding colourcoded Envelopes H-A, H-L or H-R provided. Do not place the spoilt ballot paper(s) in the ballot box(es). Once a spoilt ballot paper has been placed in a ballot box, a replacement ballot paper cannot be issued. Issue the voter with a replacement ballot paper for each ballot paper that has been spoilt. Do not forget to write the elector number against the new ballot paper number(s) on the corresponding number lists and write cancelled by the elector number for the cancelled ballot paper(s). The Presiding Officer must also remember to ensure that any replacement ballot papers bear the official mark. At the close of poll, the Presiding Officer will count and then record the number of spoilt ballot papers on the ballot paper accounts. Providing general assistance to voters You have a duty to assist voters in the voting process. Remember, voters are customers: greet them with a smile and take into account any special needs they may have. Handbook for polling station staff 19

24 Never be off-hand, prejudiced or patronising. Do not become angry or agitated, even when under pressure. Listen carefully if you are asked a question. If you are unable to answer a voter s questions or concerns, refer them to the Deputy Returning Officer. When giving general assistance, polling station staff must be careful not to lead voters to cast their votes for a specific candidate or option, or offer an opinion about a specific referendum option, party or candidate. There are a number of written instructions available for voters in the polling station. First of all, there are the instructions on the ballot papers themselves. There are also the Voting on Thursday 5 May 2011 posters. If any voter asks for assistance it may, in some circumstances, be helpful to read out these instructions to them. Additionally, the Deputy Returning Officer may have provided instructions or guidance in alternative languages or formats depending on requirements within the community. The Presiding Officer should be familiar with what resources are available and provide these as and when appropriate. Some voters may still find the instructions unclear. They may ask, for example, to have their favoured candidate or party pointed out to them or to have the referendum question read out to them. Some might ask where they should place their mark on the ballot papers. If the ballot paper is for the referendum, the Presiding Officer should explain that the elector should mark a cross (X) in the box on the right-hand side of the ballot paper opposite the answer they are voting for. If the ballot paper is for the Assembly or local government elections, the Presiding Officer should explain that they can vote for as many or as few candidates as they wish by voting for candidates in order of preference (marking the ballot paper with a 1 for first choice, 2 for second choice, 3 for third choice, etc.). The Presiding Officer should read out the list of candidates in the order that they appear on the ballot papers. An Information Poll Clerk will be allocated to some polling places and will be wearing a tabard to facilitate identification. In such cases, voters can be directed to these staff for guidance. There are special procedures to follow when assisting disabled voters and these are described in Appendix 1. Complaints If anyone has a complaint of any kind, you should attempt to resolve it informally. If that is not possible, the person should be offered a complaints booklet and be told that if they complete it and send it in, the matter will be considered after the results have been declared. No stamp is required on the completed complaints form. Under no circumstances should you accept a completed form. All complaints, including any that are resolved informally, should be recorded in the polling station log. If complaints are regarding the performance or conduct of other polling staff, there will be a staff assessment form available on the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland s website ( which can be downloaded, completed and returned using the freepost address supplied to the Human Resources Officer before 31 May Certificates of employment Some polling station staff may have been issued with certificates of employment signed by the Deputy Returning Officer, allowing them to vote at another polling station rather than at their allocated one. Similarly, a police officer may present such a certificate, signed by an officer of the Police Service of Northern Ireland not below the rank of inspector. In such cases, the voter must produce acceptable photographic identification and the Presiding Officer must issue a ballot paper. The certificates should then be cancelled and placed in the corresponding colour-coded Envelopes E-A, E-L and E-R provided. 20 Handbook for polling station staff

25 Maintenance of the polling place The Presiding Officer should check the polling place regularly, including a check for any queues of electors waiting to vote, and ensure that voters have unimpeded access at all times: Check signs and notices and replace or repair any that have been defaced or damaged. Ensure that the entrance to the polling station, including any ramps, is not blocked. Where temporary ramps are being used, ensure that they are firmly in place. Instruct anyone who is campaigning in or around the polling place to stop. Remove any campaign literature that may have been left in the polling station. Make sure that there is sufficient light for voters in the polling booths. Make sure that the pens are still in the booths. Ensure that nothing has been left in the booths, including ballot papers or information on a particular candidate or campaign. Check the ballot box seals/lock. Give the ballot box a shake or use a ruler to push the ballot papers down if the box seems full. Keep the polling station clean, tidy and free from any hazards, including any passageways leading into the polling station. If you notice any queues forming, take steps as instructed by the Deputy Returning Officer for dealing with them. Checks should be recorded in the polling station log. Example of a polling station log Polling station log This is a record of the activities in the polling station throughout the day and must be maintained. Items should be recorded in chronological order and the member of staff making each entry must initial it. Handbook for polling station staff 21

26 6 The close of poll Polling must close at 10pm. Procedures In the lead-up to the close of poll, check the polling station. Take steps to ensure that as far as possible all waiting electors will be able to be issued with a ballot paper by 10pm. Inform the Deputy Returning Officer immediately in the event of a queue existing or building up in the lead-up to the close of poll. Make sure that the doors to the polling station are closed at exactly 10pm. Anyone who has been issued with ballot papers by 10pm must be allowed to vote. No one may be issued with ballot papers after 10pm, even if they are inside the polling station and waiting to receive their ballot papers. The following are permitted to be present at the close of poll: the Returning Officer/Deputy Returning Officer and their staff candidates election agents and sub-agents polling agents referendum agents police officers on duty in the polling station representatives of the Electoral Commission accredited observers After the close of poll, the Presiding Officer must seal the slot of the ballot boxes and any candidate, election agent, sub-agent, referendum agent or polling agent present may also affix their seal to them. The Poll Clerks, in the meantime, 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 the room to its original state. Take care when moving heavy items (see Appendix 8 for further information on health and safety). Candidates for both the Assembly and local government elections, election agents, polling agents and referendum agents are entitled to be present when the paperwork is being completed and when the various packets of documents are sealed as described below. Completing the paperwork The Presiding Officer must complete all official forms. Take care when filling in the paperwork. It is far more important to be accurate than fast. Checklist of official forms to be completed by the Presiding Officer the ballot paper accounts (one to be completed for each poll (colour-coded)) the forms included in the special voting procedures booklet: the tendered votes list the list of votes marked by the Presiding Officer and the statement of number of voters whose votes are marked by the Presiding Officer the list of voters with disabilities assisted by companions the declarations made by the companions of voters with disabilities the list of voters issued with ballot papers as a result of an alteration to the register of electors on the day of the polls Completion of the paperwork is easier if all the official forms are laid out with their corresponding envelopes. The front of each of the official envelopes lists the contents. 22 Handbook for polling station staff

27 Complete as many of the forms and envelopes as possible during the day, well before the close of poll. 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 issued or electors have not spoilt any ballot papers. If this is the case, still complete the forms entering a nil return as necessary and fill in the relevant sections of the ballot paper accounts. Checklist of official packets and envelopes and their contents Three ballot paper accounts: one for the referendum ballot papers, one for the Assembly ballot papers and one for the local government ballot papers. These should be put in the colour-coded envelopes provided (Envelopes A-A (white), A-L (buff) and A-R (light grey)) and placed in the polyfile. The marked copy of the register of electors (including any marked notices as described in Appendix 2) and list of proxies Envelope B. Polling station log and completed comments cards Envelope C. The special voting procedures booklet containing the tendered votes list, the list of voters with disabilities assisted by companions, the list of votes marked by the Presiding Officer and the statement of the number of voters whose votes are marked by the Presiding Officer, the declarations made by the companions of voters with disabilities and the list of voters issued with ballot papers as a result of an alteration to the register of electors on the day of the polls Envelope D. Certificates of employment Envelopes E-A, E-L and E-R. The used and partially used corresponding number lists Envelopes F-A, F-L and F-R. The used tendered ballot papers for the Assembly election (Envelope G-A), local government election (Envelope G-L) and referendum (Envelope G-R). Unused and spoilt ballot papers (both ordinary and tendered) to be placed in colour-coded Envelopes H-A, H-L and H-R. If they do not fit, wrap the envelope around them and secure with string or elastic bands. List of postal voters, polling agent lists, subagent lists and used poll cards Envelope I. The law requires that at the close of poll the Presiding Officer must seal the envelopes containing the specified documents. Once sealed, the Presiding Officer must sign across the seal and allow any polling agent, candidate, election agent, referendum agent or sub-agent present who wishes to do so to sign the seal. It is important that this instruction is followed in case the documents are later required in court. The ballot paper accounts The ballot paper accounts are the most important of all the paperwork and should be filled in first, with care. In many instances the first section of the ballot paper accounts will have been completed in advance by the Deputy Returning Officer. It is the Presiding Officer s duty to complete the remainder of each form. The ballot paper accounts reconcile the number of ballot papers dealt with by the Presiding Officer. Remember to count the number of ballot papers issued according to the number of the next ballot paper that has not been issued and include this on the ballot paper accounts. The forms rely on the serial numbering of the ballot papers and this is why it is so important to issue ballot papers in numerical order as pre-printed on the corresponding number lists. When completed, the ballot paper accounts should be placed in the corresponding Envelope A. There will be a colour-coded envelope for each poll: A-A (white) for the Assembly ballot paper account, A-L (buff) for the local government ballot paper account, and A-R (light grey) for the referendum ballot paper account. The ballot paper accounts must be delivered in the polyfile provided with the ballot boxes and other documentation to the verification centre as directed do not lose them or place them by mistake in another envelope or with other election or referendum materials as this may cause problems and delays at the verification. Handbook for polling station staff 23

28 Example of a ballot paper account filled in Documentation is to be packed as shown in Appendix 12. Transporting referendum and election materials to the verification and count centre/collection point The ballot boxes, ballot paper accounts, polyfile, clear sack containing the official envelopes, and other election stationery and materials must be delivered to the verification and count centre/collection point. The Deputy Returning Officer will have given instructions regarding the transportation of ballot boxes and polling station materials to the count centre/collection point and whether they are to be collected or whether you are to take them directly to the count centre/collection point. The rest of the paperwork Presiding Officers should then attend to the rest of the paperwork. Complete and sign the other forms in the special voting procedures booklet. Do not forget to fill in the forms with nil returns if they have not been needed during the day. Packing materials at the polling station Pack the materials into their official envelopes and packets. The corresponding number lists and the unused ballot papers must be placed separately in the appropriate envelopes. Sacks and bags will have been supplied to transport the paperwork and other referendum and election materials back to the count centre/collection point. Make sure that the items go in the appropriate container. You will have been provided with: a polyfile a clear sack a black bag colour-coded envelopes marked A to I If the items are to be delivered by the Presiding Officer, the Deputy Returning Officer will have given instructions on the location of the centre and the entrance to be used. One of the Poll Clerks may be asked to assist the Presiding Officer if there is too much for one person to carry. Go to the verification and count centre directly and without delay. Presiding Officers should contact the Deputy Returning Officer immediately if any problems occur that may cause a delay in getting to the centre. Sometimes, other arrangements may be made for the delivery of ballot boxes and referendum and election materials to the verification and count centre. It may be that the Deputy Returning Officer arranges for the materials to be collected from the polling station and taken to the count centre. Do not leave the ballot boxes unattended at any time, and ensure that ballot boxes are only handed to members of the Deputy Returning Officer s staff. 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. You should leave the black bag, polling screens, large A2 laminated Polling station sign, Wheelchair access sign and ramps (if supplied) at the polling station. 24 Handbook for polling station staff

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