Saturday, June 08, 2024

Democracy in action

Yesterday I was a Poll Clerk at the European and Local Elections based in Cabinteely-Kilbogget electoral area in the DĂșn Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency in Dublin. It was my first time to do this and I was very much looking forward to seeing the "other" side of the voting process.
Image source: Elections SK.

The day started very early as we had to be in the polling station at 06:30 to prepare the location for opening of polls at 07:00. There were five desks in the school hall with each having approximately 600 registered voters to check and provide ballot papers to voters. I was the guy that voters presented their polling cards to after which I checked their name against the register. I got a shiny new ruler and pencil to cross their names off the register. The voter was then passed on to my colleague the Presiding Officer, who gave them stamped ballot papers after which they went to the ballot box and cast their votes. A simple job really.

There were no major issues at any of the polling desks in our station. Minor issues that arose were things like voters not having their polling card - in this case we checked ID and if we found their names and address on the register they were OK to vote. Some voters were not on the register, but we had a supplementary register of voters who had only registered in the past few weeks. I had just one prospective voter who was not on the register at all - he had only just moved to the area. Some sadness for some voters as they saw their deceased parents' names still on the register.

By about 17:00 I was beginning to wonder if anyone under the age of 40 was going to vote - the "grey" vote certainly came out in the morning and afternoon and by this time it was certainly obvious to me that older people get out and vote (and that the politicians know this). However, by the time evening arrived there were a lot more younger voters, including some first time voters in school uniform.

Non-EU citizens could not vote in the European election (for obvious reasons) - they could only vote in the local elections. It was a surprise to several British citizens that they were not allowed to vote in the European election - all blamed Brexit for that. At the end of the day we had to lock the ballot boxes and tidy up the small mountain of paper and left over ballots. Everything is bagged and sealed - no doubt to be checked the next day in the RDS where counting takes place.  

While it was a very long day for us (16 hours), everybody was in a good humour throughout the day. Voters were very polite and none of us reported any rudeness or problems with voters. The whole process is very transparent and it was great to be see that the voting process is clean and above board. Every voter can be assured that their ballot is safely looked after and will be counted the next day.

Democracy in action is great to see - I will sign up for the next election for which I hope to be selected as a Poll Clerk and perhaps a counter too.

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