Observing elections to improve democracy
A team of 5 observers, registered with the UK’s Electoral Commission, made 74 separate observations in polling stations across the North Down, Strangford and Belfast East constituencies. This constituted 34.7% of the polling stations in the area. This was:
In total the team observed 34.7% of the ballot boxes in the Belfast Area Electoral Office (B) area of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.
Each observation was generally conducted in pairs to allow for objective observation and they then agreed their opinions of the electoral process before submitting data to the central team. However, in some of the larger polling stations (some having six separate ballot boxes) three or more of the team were deployed. The survey was conducted online so data was collected, and could be checked, live.
The observations generally took between twenty and thirty minutes per polling station as the observers were asked to ensure that they attempted to see the entire process, which included staff greeting electors on arrival at the polling station.
The organisation of polling stations was generally well run across the council area, voters could clearly see how to access voting and staff were trained to manage the process. We would, however, draw attention to the large scale evidence of ‘family voting’ which the team identified in 43% of polling stations in which we estimate that over 1 in 10 of all the voters we observed were involved in ‘family voting’ of one form or another. This is significantly higher than any election we have previously observed.
Click the link below for the Final Report from the Northern Ireland Assembly Elections below.