What I learnt from working at the December 2019 UK elections

I worked in the election.   I wanted to help my country, but also I was between jobs, so it was a good way to earn some casual extra money.  I wrote the council, filled in a form, and attended a training event.    You just have to be polite, customer facing and impartial.

Running the Polling station is fairly simple.  It does take two people to run each table.   One has to look up voters in a book put a line through them.   They don’t need a voting card, just need to give their address.

If you work at the polling station, in this case was a church, you need to be there at 0615 and have the ballot boxes, envelopes, pencils are sharpened, then open up the building at 0700, and close the doors at 2200, and once cleared up we go home at 2230.   Its a long day and my list of people covered streets A-K probably about 1100-1200 people, and the other table run by the other team covered L-Z, you need to make sure people put their vote in the right ballot box.

There are some posters put up with stern legal notices about voting on behalf of someone else without proper authorisation is a criminal offence.

We had lots of people come together as neighbours, who are from different backgrounds.   Indians, Spanish, French, Turkish, Muslims (Arabic speaking and also some from Pakistan or Bangladesh) Greeks, Chinese and Jewish.  When you look them up in the book you can gather a lot of details of the demographics.    Folks also smile and say hello to their neighbours without actually divisiveness of when what people’s favourite or least favourite leader is put online.

Incidents at the polling station were a rarity.   I only had one person sort of hostile, when he was told he couldn’t use his phone the building swore at us.    People see you as a cold authority, not aware none of us work for the council and only employed as a one-off day.   I see it as making sure the public can to have a say democratically where some places like China or North Korea don’t.

Ok, so 2020 was a challenging year for the UK.   Now I’ve moved back to my home town of Portsmouth, after needing to leave London, I think I’m going to help out with the elections down here again in May, and can use some of the cash to buy a few things for my forthcoming new house or do another trip to Europe later this year.

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