Observing elections to improve democracy
A team of 4 observers registered with, and accredited by, the UK’s Electoral Commission, made 38 separate observations in 36 different polling stations across the Lewisham East Parliamentary Constituency. This constituted approximately 88% percent of the polling stations in the area.
Each observation was 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. The survey was conducted online so data was collected, and could be checked, live.
The observations generally took between thirty and forty-five 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.
Each team of observers was contacted throughout the day by the central team to ensure that observation was as uniform as possible.
The organisation of polling stations was generally very well run across the council area, voters could clearly see how to access voting and staff were trained to manage the process.
This was an extremely well-run election. Access to voting was clear and despite the nature of the weather, throughout polling day, officials dealt well with the process.
As with several recent elections that Democracy Volunteers have observed we continue to be concerned about the levels of ‘family voting’ at polling stations.
Our observer team saw ‘family voting’ in 44% of the polling stations attended which, bearing in mind the team records all the voters who attend polling stations, means that 10% of all the voters who attended polling stations were involved in this practice.
We would recommend that officers, and the presiding officers, take time to be aware of this and intercede when they see this. Evidence, as provided by the OSCE/ODIHR, suggests that this practice most affects women voters as the secrecy of their ballot is restricted.
Once again on the 100th anniversary of the first enfranchisement of women it is unfortunate that women voters continue not to have the right to vote in secrecy, from their spouse or other family member.