MORE than 1,000 voter registrations have been made in Swindon since Prime Minister Theresa May announced there would be a general election in June.
Electoral staff already elbow deep in preparations for the parish elections on May 4, have just seven weeks to prepare for the national polling day on June 8. Normally it has months.
Deputy returning officer Sally Sprason told the Advertiser: “Logistically it is a huge task. There is no two ways about, because it impacts on everyone in Swindon at some point.”
“The most important thing is that it is done swiftly but correctly. It all means a lot of extra man hours to meet the statutory deadlines.”
The announcement on Tuesday came as a surprise to many, including the staff. “It was a bit of a shock. Once we got used to the idea we just decided to crack on and do the job.”
She said many of the new voter registrations were duplicates from people who were panicking that they weren’t on the electoral roll. And that was just a small part of the task at hand.
Between the four of them they would be dealing with all the staffing needed for the 102 polling stations across the borough and for the count – 600 people.
They would also be sorting out roughly 30,000 postal votes and sending out voting cards for around 150,000 people.
Booking the schools and community halls for the polling days was another task, although many halls made it as easy as possible by moving events around to accommodate them.
“Already we are working into the evening and we have got weekends planned because we would not be able to do it otherwise,” said Sally, who is also the council’s electoral services manager.
“Organising the count is huge. We want to get it right and we want to get a declaration out as soon as possible.” She added Swindon had a reputation for delivering the results quickly.
She encouraged residents to make sure they were registered to vote in both polling days, especially if they had moved house since the last elections, so they could take part in the elections.
Candidates for the general election need to have their nomination papers in by May 11, voters need to be registered by May 22 and applications for postal votes have to be in by May 23.
Visit swindon.gov.uk for more information.
- The dates carried in today's Advertiser are incorrect