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Things I Learnt Counting The Vote - Comments from a over-caffinated mind.
May 4th, 2012
03:08 pm

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Things I Learnt Counting The Vote
Due to my ongoing wish to be more involved in the mechanics of politics in the UK, and the urge to add anything I can to my 'stuff I have done' list, I spent a bit over 5 hours in the Cambridge Council Great-Hall counting the votes from the local election. During my brief introduction to how people going from being a 'maybe' to a 'your honorable representative, whilst surrounded by the candidates and their horde of advisers, I made the following discoveries.
  • People at the count are all really nice. I didn't think they were going to be horrible or anything but they were really jolly and friendly towards me, even though I was about the only person there under 40 and I was in my usual grunge-rocker type gear. I was taken under the wing of a lovely person called "Pam" on one side and bombarded by chocolate eclairs and boiled sweets by the lady to my left. All very civil and friendly, it reminded me of visiting Scotland to see my Gran.
  • The amount of oversight is impressive. On top of the measures from the council and the exit polls at the voting stations all of the parties were going around, watching everything happening, and taking notes on how many votes were going to who. I saw every party conferring with each of the other parties to check the scores were right and before the announcement is made a rep from each candidate is asked to accept the vote. I know that the postal vote system is questionable but when it comes to the actual count the openness and visibility makes me most confident that nothing dodgy could go down with the vote.
  • Everyone thinks everyone else ran the dirtiest campaign. As the counters ended up becoming invisible to the candidates I ended up overhearing a lot of chatter among the campaigners and not one party didn't moan that the others were running an underhand, unfair, and dishonest campaign. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that they have such unity over the campaigning but at least we know it's all level.
  • Politicians can have major hissy fits. I appreciate that it is all rather important for those getting votes in if they do or don't get the votes but I wasn't expecting one of them to all but breakdown in tears in-front of me because they were worried a minor party was going to beat them. My credit goes out to the person who convinced them it was due to "their votes having more air between the papers and your votes being put into the basket more heavily", genius move (and it turned out to be true). As this was just a council election one assumes that MP's require a hug from mummy and a promise it'll all be fine whilst prospective Prime Ministers get someone in a bunny suit to sing "We are the champions" to them.
  •  Everyone will be happy, as long as they just beat X.  It seems that every politician has one party they hate the most and really, honestly, they'll go home happy just as long as the bastards in X don't get more than them. They were all very resolute on this and, rather curiously, there was no real clear cut along party lines on this one. It seems more of an individual thing than a formal nemesis at party level.L
  • The Labour Party is kind of two parties. Hand up for being a noob but I never knew there is a Co-Operative party that works with Labour, I just always thought it was one thing.
  • Most of the count involves waiting. In the five hours I was there I think I did maybe an hours work, the rest of it was just sitting there and waiting. Waiting for ballots to turn up, waiting for things to be signed off, waiting for agents to go to the stand, waiting for validation and confirmation, and then finally just waiting for everything to be called out. Not horrible, mostly due to the new count-chums I had made, but its just that the evening was a lot less active than I thought it would be.
  • Labour really acted like a bunch of school kids. I tried to keep this as party neutral as possible, however one group managed to underwhelm me with their behaviour and that was the Labour Party when the results were being read out. It wasn't the wild clapping when they won, it may have been a little enthusiastic but that's fine in my book, but the clearly audible smug laughter when other parties got their numbers called out was just childish. I didn't hear any giggling come from any other party that night, no matter how weak their opponents showing, so whilst I accept that Labour had an axe to grind I think the chortling at the misfortune of others showed a distinct lack of class.
So that was all that. I hopefully get to do it again in November.

(Snap your neck?)

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