Poll Position

A brown dog at a polling station next to a sign

The next elections, for the Mayor of London and London Assembly, will take place on Thursday 2 May. We speak to Daniela Taylor, who has worked Islington elections for the past 12 years, to get a behind-the-scenes insight into how they work

Many of us have voted in an election before: you register, turn up on voting day (bringing your pooch, if you have one, and joining in on social using the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations!), go into a booth, put a cross against your chosen representatives and then pop your ballot in a box.

Easy-peasy. All of that will be the same this time around except, vitally, you now need to make sure you have your ID on you. If you don’t have an approved form of photo ID, you can apply for a free voter authority certificate.

So, you’ve registered, you’ve got your ID or certificate, and you’ve voted. Then what happens?

“There’s lots of sorting and counting involved,” explains Daniela. “The first thing we do is check that we have the total number of ballot papers that we’re supposed to. We then count how many votes each candidate has received.” Once sorted, piles are recounted and totalled.

“You do all of this with a partner, within a small team, so there’s a lot of small talk,” Daniela continues. “You’re there for seven or so hours but when you’re not counting, you get to know each other. I remember working with a lovely lady a few years back who I ended up exchanging emails with, so she could send me recipes – it turned out we both have an interest in cooking.”

What’s it like to work at an election? What kind of roles are there?

“What’s nice is, you see a lot of familiar faces year to year. I think it’s brilliant! I’ve always enjoyed it.” The work is paid and there are several roles available: count assistant (which is the role that Daniela has described), postal vote opening clerk, poll clerk – which involves setting up the polling station, checking the voter is on the register as they arrive and their ID, and packing down at the end of the day, among other things – and presiding officer, which is a more senior role that requires experience.

Some positions require training, but most of them don’t. “I recommend it to everyone,” says Daniela. “It’s long hours but the atmosphere is great.”

Register to vote on the Government website

Find out more about voter ID and apply for a free voter authority certificate on the Islington Council website.

Apply to work at an election.



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