Democracy Volunteers deployed more than 200 observers, and support team, of the over 300 Democracy Volunteers observers accredited with the UK’s Electoral Commission. These deployed across all the four nations of the UK on 5th May 2022. These observers formed teams of two, and attended 1,723 polling stations:

  • England: 972
  • Northern Ireland: 436
  • Scotland: 285
  • Wales: 30

These observers spent between 30 minutes and 60 minutes at each polling venue observing the process and then completed one or more surveys for each polling station, dependant on the number of ballot boxes. In general, teams attend between 10 and 15 polling stations in their day. The teams observed in the following council areas assessing different aspects of the voting process.

England: Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Calderdale, Coventry, Croydon, Derby, Dudley, Elmbridge. Exeter, Hackney, Halton, Hastings, Leeds, Lewisham, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Newham, Oxford, Peterborough, Reading, Runnymede, Sandwell, Sefton, Salford, Solihull, Stockport, Tower Hamlets, Trafford, Wakefield, Watford, Westminster, Wolverhampton, Woking.

Northern Ireland: Belfast East, Belfast North, Belfast South, Belfast West, East Antrim, East Londonderry, Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Foyle, Lagan Valley, Mid Ulster, Newry & Armagh, North Antrim, North Down, South Antrim, South Down, Strangford, Upper Bann, West Tyrone.

Scotland: Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Edinburgh, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Lothian.

Wales: Cardiff.

Our team of observers saw several challenges to the electoral process, once again these focused around the challenge of family voting, where more than one person attempts to vote together in a polling booth, or affect, direct, or oversee the vote of another. Our team saw family voting in 25% of all the polling stations we observed. In each nation we observed family voting in the following percentage of polling stations:

  • England 21%
  • Northern Ireland 42%
  • Scotland 19%
  • Wales 34%

As can be seen ‘family voting’ is a widespread activity across all parts of the UK. Family Voting was observed in 438 of the 1723 polling stations Democracy Volunteers observed in the UK on May 5th, 2022. Over 70% of those being affected by Family Voting were women. 54% of those causing Family Voting were men. Our observers saw Family Voting across all parts of the UK, and it was not limited to any one ethnic group or another.

‘Our observers continue to see significant levels of family voting, where one person has oversight, or control, of another person’s vote. In the UK, where the secret ballot is a long-standing practice, it continues to be worrying that rarely do we see it prevented.’

‘We call on legislators and administrators to be more aware of family voting as it undermines the right to vote in secret, and to legislate where possible and prevent it in the polling stations when it is seen.’

Dr John Ault, Director of Democracy Volunteers

As well as reading the report you can listen to John Ault and Harry Busz talking to Juliana on the Election Observer podcast.

Find out about how we decide where to observe and the scale of our observation in 2022.

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