Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Polling booths unfit for purpose

I wrote to the electoral services administration at the local council last week about the equipment, in particular the polling booths, used at my local polling station.
"Dear Sir/Madam,

I’ve been meaning to contact you about a problem with the polling booths in the ********** polling station in ******** for some years. With the general election looming, I feel obliged to do so now. Basically the polling booths are tiny triangular counters which are often arranged facing out into the polling station room. They offer no privacy for casting a vote and are fundamentally unfit for purpose, compared to the rectangular curtained booths that were available when I first moved to ******** ** years ago. The secret ballot introduced to the UK in 1872 is the cornerstone of the electoral process. There has been no meaningful capacity to cast a secret ballot with confidence in the ********** polling station, ever since this completely unsuitable equipment was introduced some years ago.
I would therefore appreciate your confirmation that suitably appropriate and reasonable polling booths will be made available for use in the ********* polling station for the coming general election and indeed future local, general and European elections.

Could you also send me a copy, under your freedom of information procedures, of your most recent review of the ******************* community centre polling place, conducted under section 16 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (which amended section 18 of the Representation of the People Act 1983).

Thank you.

Ray Corrigan"
Not only are these counters unfit for purpose, the election ballot paper is often bigger than the surface available to lean it on to record a vote, in pretty much full visibility of anyone in the polling station.

Credit where it is due, however, the electoral services team leader responded within two working days, promising that they are upgrading the equipment.
"Dear Mr Corrigan
Thank you for your email.  I can confirm that we have ordered new polling screens for these elections.

Electoral Services Team Leader"
Hopefully it means that by the time of the general election, my local polling station will, for the first time in years, have "reasonable facilities for voting", as guaranteed under section 16 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (amending section 18 of the Representation of the People Act 1983).