UK polling stations turned away "hundreds" of voters on Thursday, shutting their doors as people continued to queue for ballots. The BBC reports that police were called to a polling station in Lewisham, south London, where a queue of roughly 300 people had yet to vote when the doors closed at 10pm BST, and that about 200 voters …
The Beeb says voters were "fuming", but we believe they mean non-voters.
HA HA such a cheap shot
I believe that in Oz, it is the law that you must vote, hence people have to be given time off to do so. In the UK you are free to not vote if none of the candidates meet your expectation (although most people don't vote because they can't be arsed)
It appears that in the areas where there were queues, a lot of people turned up to vote without their voting cards. It was then necessary for the staff at the Polling Station to try to verify that they were who they said they were, that they were entitled to vot and that they had not already done so. This took considerably longer than normal.
I also heard that there were a number of students that wanted to vote for the first time, but hadn't registered - this caused some issues. However, that story seems to have died away, not sure how many were involved.
Although I feel sorry for the those that couldn't vote, the polling stations were open for 15 hours. I think that is a reasinable amount of time (feel free to argue if you feel strongly enough).
What was good, was the number of people that chose to actually vote - a big increase on last time. But there are still some 30% of the population that didn't, many of whom have never voted. This has to be a big concern for eveyone.
its a pity there is no alternative....
... for busy workers like a postal vote, then I could have voted a week ago and not bothered to go to a polling station at all, oh wait a minute I did.
Sly tactics ?
I think most of the working class would vote Labour and these are the people most likely to be stuck in crappy jobs all day with no chance to get away and vote. All the rich bosses ensure the workers are in work they go out and vote for the Cons.
Why not have the vote over 48 hours, say Fri and Sat ?
The conservative voters are the people who work in jobs where they don't have set start and finish, and are working 12 hour days. The tory vote also has alot of workers in the farming industry who are working 18 hour days at this time of year.
most of the benefit claimants with nothing to do but spend my taxes would vote labour.... ..
it's not a party political issue.
Besides, in the UK, like the US, what use is there to cast your vote, I mean, it's not like you have choice .... more like in the communist countries in the 80's ... Ok, you have two parties, but what is the difference between the two? Right!
The French conservative equivalent, the UMP, are politically close to New Labour ... and New Labour say they are social demobrats ... LOL!
I was hoping for a miracle, i.e. see a green MP for once in the UK ... sad day for the planet!
BTW, election day in France is on a Sunday, always ...
From interviews with some of the "non-voters" last night it was worse than this ... some people were so desperate to ensure that their vote counted that when they went to vote at 6pm and saw a queue they decided they couldn't be bothered to wait and came back at 9:30 to find a longer queue.
One of the problems seems to have been the time taken to check that people were on the electoral regitser - espeicially if they had not brought a polling card. Queue for Alan Johnson to come in with the "of course, if we had ID cards then ..."
it's nonsense about not having a polling card.
I didn't take mine as the wife had been rather over zealous with the recycling and I didn't have it anymore. It took no longer to find me on the list. They asked the people with polling cards the same questions they asked me, name and address. Done.
Will it affect the result?
Looking at the constituencies where this occurred, those who've declared a winner have declared it with a sizeable majority (so a few hundred voters wouldn't have changed the outcome), and those who are yet to are very safe seats...
So, whilst it's an unforgivable farce and unbelievably blow against the people, I doubt it will affect the outcome.
I'd like to know their official justification of segregating the "students" and the "residents" in Sheffield Hallam though... Surely this is forbidden? And what happens if you are a "resident" who studies in Sheffield? I understand that a sizeable proportion of students at Sheff. Hallam are from Sheffield...
To Stupid To Vote
If you are such a retard that you can't get to a polling station in the 15 hours it's open,or see this as being a possibility and register a postal vote beforehand you quite frankly don't deserve to have your voice heard.
Let's face it, even someone working a 12 hour shift with a 2 hour commute can either get to the polling station around the corner at 7AM, an hour before they need to leave for work or 9PM, an hour before the polls close.
If you turn up at the train station 10 minutes before in the middle of rush hour, still needing to buy a ticket you probably won't hit the platform before the train departs. Do these people expect them to hold the train?
If you're going to call anyone a retard, learn to spell "Too".
@ Code Monkey
Here, here, sir!
And so many idiots missing the point - if queues are forming outside a polling station then it's up to the returning officer to lay on more staff, booths etc to make sure everyone can vote, or so the Electoral Commission say, but, hey, what do they know?
And what about the polling station which managed to run out of ballot papers?
people were queuing for over 4 hours!
which if you'd gone at 7 am would have made you late for work..
An minor but important fact...
You seem to be forgetting that the people who were turned away were the ones who tried to vote in the time alloted - they were queuing up at the time in order to do that very thing weren't they?
Is there some compulsory amount of time we have to factor in when deciding what time to go to the polling station?
Thought not. The right to vote is not conditional upon the ability or preparedness to queue.
People who can't be bothered to show up on time...
... Shouldn't be allowed to vote anyway.
Seriously, they can't tell the time and they want a say in how the country is run?
They did turn up on time. Before 10pm.
Some of them turned up three hours before the polls closed but still couldn't get in to vote.
Why they don't use on-line voting (probably)
Apparently ine of the key parts of the voting system (according to reports I have read) is that the vote is supposed to be secret. This was because in the old days prospective MPs used to pay people to vote for them, if they could ID the voter they new who pay. With on-line voting you would pretty much HAVE to Id yourself in order to avoid repeat voting or automated voting fraud or politicians buying votes directly (and probably claiming the money back on expenses).
Personally I would hav eno problem with people knowing my vote or on-line voting but the fraud side needs to be dealt with first.
So is that why each voter slip has a serial number on the back? And why they write that number down next to your name on the list of voters?
The thing is...
There were 13 hours in which to vote. People, by their own statements, were "turning up at 6, finding the queues too long so went home and came back later" when, shocker, the queues were even longer.
Do what myself and many other people who DID vote managed to do.
STAND IN THE FUCKING QUEUE UNTIL YOU GET TO THE FRONT.
Seriously, we can't even get THAT bit right and we're trying to impose fair democracy on other countries around the world? That's just plain scary.
well if there was a queue...
constantly from 6pm until 10pm, then even if they'd stayed,. it would have meant someone _ELSE_ would have had issues instead
in some places, people in the queue at 7pm had been in the queue since 4pm...
A fair point
But my parents queued for 3 and a half hours and got to vote (from 6pm) - from what I've heard people were turning up, seeing the queue, then going away and coming back later only to find the queue was bigger.
It's an important right, and as it only happens every few years, to me it's worth standing in a queue tbh.
... who would seriously expect the queues to get longer towards the end. Previous experience no doubt played a part, and people arriving at 6-7pm thought "Oh, it is just people voting on their way home from work. I'll come back later when the queue will have gone down". Queues at polling stations until closing time are very rare - probably not within living memory.
Regarding postal votes - fine if you are not going to be influenced by any last minute events ("I've always voted [insert] and there is nothing going to change that"), but there are others who want to have the flexibility. If, as one commentator has said, it is possible to vote anywhere within a constituency, why isn't this better known? Problems might have been avoided by telling people this.
We should be celebrating the increase in political involvement, not saying "Well, it's their own fault for wanting to vote at their own convenience". Equally, let's be proud that people went out and *did* stand in queues, in the rain, to vote, even if they didn't actually have their polling card to hand. This is a good sign for the future, but let's hope it hasn't put people off (or that there will be some call for electronic voting based on ID cards).
can't find a time to vote between 7AM and 9PM (14 hours) and has to leave it to the last minute.
Those people clearly are too stupid to deserve to vote.
How about the people who can't make it to the polls on time coulda used the postal vote, or changed their polling station to a place near work and borrow a couple hours off?
should only be a last resort for those who absolutely can't make it to the polling booth.
I think a better idea would be to either have the elections on a weekend, or to declare election day as a national holiday.
A holiday for the election?
I think it's a great idea - an extra long weekend and 50 times as many postal votes to count. I know I wouldn't stick around - I'd be on expedia the minute they announced the election.
The polls close earlier because elections are held on a Saturday, not a work day.
The voting districts should be organised by the number of people in each district - say one polling station per 2000 people or whatever.
I voted last night with no issues whatsoever, arrived @5:45 after getting off my train and a 10-minute walk to the voting place - no queue, in and out in around 4 minutes, including a little natter to the officials - there were 4 official people in there, so well staffed as well.
The Beeb says voters were "fuming", but we believe they mean non-voters.
What amazed me
Was they were saying unexpectedly high numbers turned up to vote.
a) They knew this was going to be a high turnout.
b) Surely they should be planning on 100% turning up anyway?
And then ...
... adding on at least 10% for the accidentally damaged papers, confused voters, etc. Typical lack of foresight, I'm afraid.
Why bother about not being able to vote* as long as this majority voting system is not able to accurately reflect the public's opinion and produce a corresponding result.
*Cynicism aside, what happend here is only worth a banana republic's dictatorship.
Online voting via Facebook and Twitter!!
What could go wrong?
...is a working day for many people too, such as doctors, nurses, shift workers of any sort etc., so that doesn't solve it.
I think a 15 hour window plus the option of postal voting should be sufficient. Many people are just a bit stupid and lazy when it comes to voting.
Taking the students for example, there's no way any of these had a long commute to contend with in the morning, or couldn't spare a few minutes during the day to nip off and vote.
With the last scottish elections using the STV system, many people could not muster the comprehension to put numbers in boxes instead of Xs.
Undoubtedly things could have been better organised in some places, but people need to take responsibility for their own voting arrangements too.
Insufficient staff, inadequate preparedness...
There was a queue at my local Polling Station and a bit of checking with the stopwatch function on my wristwatch found that the staff were taking between 40 seconds and a minute to deal with *each* voter ie to go through the process of them getting to the desk, handing over the Polling Card (add extra time if they'd forgotten it), find the name on the register, rule it out, tear off two voting slips and write down the numbers before the person could make actually go and make their mark.
It's clear that when the queues started to form, there was insufficient preparedness on the part of officials to speed up the process by, for example, drafting in extra staff or allowing the Polling Stations to stay open longer (some places, eg Lewisham, did stay open, others closed on the dot of 10pm because "that's the law") and that's not something we should be expected to put up with.
Running out of ballot papers really is inexcusable.
It'd be like going to the post office and being told they've run out of stamps. Only this particular post office is open for 1 day every 5 years and serves no purpose other than to dispense stamps.
Lovin' the bitterness
Clearly one El Reg reader missed out having turned up at 21:55 and has been downvoting the "postal vote ftw" posts :o) I'm lovin't it (yes, it seems I watch too much commercial TV).
I must correct one point tho' - turning up at 21:59 ain't sufficient. The vote must be cast by 22:00 unless the Presiding Officer allows otherwise. It's just like turning up to the match on a Sat (or Mon, or Tues, bloody Sky...) 2 minutes before kick-off. They might let you in, they might not if the queue is huge and you can't get in before kick-off. It's your job to be there in sufficient time, bearing in mind that most ppl will be voting 5pm-9pm with a smaller rush from 7am-9am. Plan accordingly.
Postal votes are a good idea if you have family/work commitments that may impact on your ability to vote - it;s exactly why they are provided for. Anyone worried about changing their mind in the last 7 days of the election campaign based on what someone might say on the tele really needs to give some thought to what basis they are voting on. Sounds like fluff...
Finally, it would be interesting to see what proportion of those non-voters sans polling cards were actually registered to vote. Students are notorious for not being registered ("I don;t need to pay council tax so why should I tell the council I live here?")
It's just like turning up to the match...
Except that watching the match isn't a guaranteed right. Here in the States, if you're in line before polls close, you have an absolute right to cast your vote. As for polling places running out of ballots, as others have said, that's completely inexcusable.
Re: It's just like turning up to the match...
dr_forrester: Here in the States, if you're in line before polls close, you have an absolute right to cast your vote.
Unless you are black.
Something very nauseating
... about watching Police officers forcing enthusiastic voters away from a supposedly democratic General Election in the UK.
That and waking up to find Gordon Brown is still clinging to the keys of Downing Street.
It looks systematic
The voters without polling cards is a spurious excuse. With a poll number or just an address it takes the same time to find, and mark, the record in the roll.
Councils are under pressure to save money. So they minimise staff and save on voting papers. They probably work to a stanardised 10 % margin over last time, turnout is 10 % up and variability did the rest.
I had a quiet laugh to myself
I remember US elections and the laughter of workmates in the UK at the "third world" nature of the queues. Funny, no laughing yesterday...
I was one of the people working at this election in a London Borough.
We were open from 7am until 10pm, and the Polling Stations are all very local to the registered address of the voter so public transport is not required. Add to this the fact that if you were disabbled you can almost bet that one of the local parties would have been willing to give you a lift if they thouht you might vote for them there is no excuse not to get there on time. The staff were there from 6:15am until about 10:30pm and unable to leave the station or take any proper breaks unless things got quiet.
At our location we had about 5k people on the voter lists, this list was then split into three parts. So after the postal votes etc each station probably had about 1500 people to look after. We had papers for about 1200 people at each station, we could have got more if we needed them but it's very unlikely. Everyone wants us to stop wasting money and printing papers for every voter would mean an extra 30-40% of paper being paid for and wasted.
People have to go to the particular station and be marked off their list to ensure that they only vote once, so there is no way we could just add extra staff once we had started. Most of the day we had 30-40 people delt with each hour, at our peak 6-8pm we were dealing with 100 per hour (I logged the number every hour), and queues were stretching out the door but we were working as fast as possible. the voter cards made our life much easier because we could use the number to go straight to the place on the register instead of having to look it up via street name, house number and name.
We didn't have to turn anyone away for being late, but most elections we end up with someone that seems to want to see how fine they can cut it and still vote. The rules we were working to were if you have a Ballot Paper at 10pm you can vote but we will not issue any papers after 10pm.
I've seen a lot of posts/comments all over the place sugesting the use of computers for doing the lists so people can vote anywhere they like. The problem with this is that most of the voting is done for a particular Ward so the papers would need to be kept together in that ward for counting etc. If you moved the whole thing to an electronic system I think we'd have even more problems than we do now and more claims of tampering with the systems.
The great thing about the current UK way of voting is that there is a true paper trail that can be looked over later to see what happened and we don't require electricity to set a station up. If the only location available is a portacabin we can use that, there have also been ocassions where the start of the poll has been run from the back of a car due to keyholders not turning up.
The UK system might not be perfect but it's robust and for the most part it works well.
Couple More Thoughts
This has been looked at before including the 14hr voting window. A big problem with this is the fact that a lot of our Polling Stations are in church buildings that are often in use at the weekends, or would cost a lot more to hire.
You can hang onto your Postal Vote and hand it in on the day of the vote but (in London) it needs to go to the station that you would normally vote at(due to ward boundaries) or the Town Hall. Also if you loose your Postal Vote you can normally get a replacement on the day from your local Town Hall.