FINAL REPORT – Brecon and Radnorshire Parliamentary By-election 01/08/19

A team of 6 observers registered with, and accredited by, the UK’s Electoral Commission made 37 separate observations out of the 93 different polling stations in the Brecon and Radnorshire Parliamentary Constituency.

Each observation was conducted in pairs to allow for objective observation, following which the two observers 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 observations were as uniform as possible.

The organisation of polling stations was extremely well run across the council area. Voters could clearly see how to access voting and staff were trained to manage the process. Several supplementary procedures were in place to deal with what seemed to be anticipated challenges to the electoral process.

CONCLUSIONS

This was an excellently conducted election by the officials. Presiding officers and poll clerks were very welcoming and friendly to both voters and the observer groups, and we would like to thank all those that helped in our work.

Family Voting

As with several recent elections that Democracy Volunteers have observed, we continue to be concerned about the levels of ‘family voting’ at polling stations. Although the numbers were actually lower than we have seen in other elections, there continues to be a lack of awareness amongst the public that family voting should be prevented.

Our observer team saw ‘family voting’ in 17% of the polling stations attended which, bearing in mind the team records all the voters who attend polling stations, means that 2.6% of all the voters who we observed attending polling stations were involved in, or affected by, this practice.

Telling and Party Activity

Parties were very active on polling day in Brecon and Radnorshire and we saw a great number of tellers asking voters for their polling numbers. This is normal in a parliamentary by-election. On some occasions tellers and other party groups were found to be too close to the formal proceedings inside the polling station. Whilst we did not consider this activity to be intimidating we believe there are procedures that polling staff could take to ensure that voters have clearer access to the polling station.

RECOMMENDATIONS

R1. Our observers identified some imperfections in the method for sealing the ballot boxes in Brecon and Radnorshire meaning that two were not sealed correctly. We would recommend that Powys considers how to better seal its ballot boxes to ensure the security of the ballot.

R2. We would recommend as part of the training for presiding officers that more attentions should be given to voters casting their ballots in the same polling booth. Whilst this was at a relatively low level in Brecon and Radnorshire we do feel this is an area where the electoral process in Powys could be made even more efficient.

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