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SOLACE Annual Summit
DS4: Democracy
‘What CX’s need to know / ask
ahead of the 2015 Parliamentary
Sponsored by:
Welcome to the Session
Chair – Dr Dave Smith, Chair SOLACE Elections and Democracy Board
Chief Executive Sunderland City Council
Today’s Panel:
• Mark Heath, Director of Corporate Services, South Hampton City
• Alex Thomas, Head of Elections and Parliament Division, Cabinet
• Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
• Simon Verdon, Managing Director, Democracy Counts
Aims for the session
• Overview of role and current issues from each of our panel members
• Discussion
• Questions
• 10 key pointers
UKPGEs 2015
10 Things to ask and/or check…..
Be clear on your Role as Returning Officer – independent from
Council. Consequences of that role, criminal and civil liability.
Insurance cover for locals??
Impact of other things – IER, reductions in capacity and resilience?
Funding issues – funding from different sources for different
elections, have a budget plan
Pre planning – project plan, risk register, regular contact / liaison
with team . Plan how you will engage but also how you will pace
yourself and the team from now till polling day
Involvement at key points – nominations, polling day, count etc
Awareness of legal regime – it is a legal regime. Basic requirements
around ballot papers and printing(lesson learnt from 2014). Access to
advice you may need and when. Who is on your mobile? Legal advisor,
EC, RO colleagues
7. Not just what you do but how you do it…..
8. Some refereeing /diplomacy skills may be required! Also, you may need
to put yourself in harms way - briefings for Candidates and Agents.
Awareness of local issues, candidates standing etc
9. Media management
10. Day job issues cf RO role
The 2015 UK Parliamentary
General Election
Alex Thomas
Deputy Director, Elections and Parliament
Electoral Policy Coordination Group (EPCG)
Electoral Commission Working Group
General Election
Project Board
Cross Government Officials
(including Crown Court of
the Clerk in Chancery, Press
Office and Legal)
Detailed legislation
Electoral Commission
and policy
Cabinet Office
Electoral Services Managers
Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA)
Other Government Departments
EPCG (Officials) Meeting
Senior stakeholders
Cabinet Office
Electoral Commission
Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA)
Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
Other Government Departments
Devolved Administration
Senior Returning Officers (ROs)
Cabinet Office
Cross-Government strategy
and coordination of polls
Home Office
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices
The same as last time (mostly...)
1. Acting Returning Officers already designated
2. Way to request funding
3. No changes to be made to Parliamentary boundaries for this election
4. Requirement to start counting 4 hours after close of poll
Proposed changes from last time
1. Changes to the design of the ballot papers
clearer and numbers removed
2. Changes to conduct legislation:
includes removing barriers to early start to counting (secondary legislation,
affirmative SI)
3. Royal Mail Service Level Agreement for delivery of candidate mailings
delivered at public expense – to be updated
4. Funding Review
new scrutiny process as used for Europeans
6 month deadline for claims
5. Candidates spending limit
6. Close of poll (already in place)
• Seeking more precise allocations and to maximise value for money.
Estimated total cost of 2014 European elections - £110m
• Historically, funding provision has consistently exceeded costs by around
£10m. Incurs an interest cost to the taxpayer
• Moved to a more evidence based / previous expenditure approach
• Less onerous scrutiny process
• Challenges: Treasury concerns at increasing costs. Ensuring transparency
and effective scrutiny. Resilience of electoral services.
• Future opportunities: Joint working, use of IT, central procurement contracts,
a more consistent approach across the UK.
1. Skills
2. Electoral fraud allegations in the media
3. Level of combination (UK Parliamentary, local, Parish and [for some]
Mayoral [plus for the very unlucky] Neighbourhood Planning elections)
4. Supplier capacity and capability
5. Individual Electoral Registration: the first major poll with new systems and
Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster
Metropolitan Borough Council
Register Accuracy and Polling Management:
Technology Can and Should Help
The IER Challenge
Voter Registration has and is undergoing the largest
change since the introduction of the Universal Franchise in
With IER now in place, is your Electoral Register accurate,
and can your teams support the business processes ahead
of the 2015 Westminster Election?
Part of the changes to support IER
Technology Can and Should Help
• Modern channels of communication are not being used
enough to reach voters, and data mining is proving to be a
missed opportunity
• Whilst “Unconfirmed” electors will remain in the register for the
General Election, you will have to chase each “non responder”
up to 28 times before 7th May 2015 in an attempt for an accurate
• Old Voter Registration software systems are struggling to cope
with IER as they were written before the Internet !
Working Example
Bedford Borough Council have equipped their 70 canvassers with tablets. They
• Accessing real time information on performance, and have made 17,000 visits
in their first attempts.
• They are merging the process of IER and HEF to get a more accurate register
and have done this in 1 stage using tablets (funding them from postage savings)
• They also have in place a mechanism to deliver postal voters and record the
time/date/location in tablets making the “last mile” not just a Royal Mail Function
Working Example (Continued)
• The same devices can use the devices to Electronically Mark Registers and
CNL’s and Manage Ballot Paper Accounts. They will likely use these in parallel
to paper.
• Bedford could be the first in the UK to have access to real time demographics
and turnout as it happens in their area to see during polling day who has and
hasn’t taken part (accepting the sensitivity of this information)
• The solution has inbuilt ‘lone worker’ tracking and support in place
• The field worker can make service request whilst on the doorstep
“…Hindsight is 20/20…”
With your encouragement, your
teams can lose the paper and gain
More Insight.
It will save you
And improve your accuracy
• Discussion Overview
• 10 Key Pointers
• Next Steps…… feedback into SOLACE Elections and Democracy Board
and Network
• SOLACE Publication summarising Policy Area

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