Friday, 13 July 2012

Counting on the night of an election

The Electoral Commission has recommended that what Tony Greaves calls the "spectator sport" of overnight election counts should be the norm. (Details on Mark Pack's pages.)

In all the discussion, little attention has been paid to the cost of the exercise. Local authority staff* have to be paid for the overtime that they work, and I doubt that they are paid at plain time rates. There are other costs resulting from carrying out this exercise after normal working time. I have a suggestion: since the leaders in the campaign to persist with overnight counts are the broadcasting organisations and political wonks, they should contribute financially.

* In days gone by, electoral returning officers would recruit local bank staff, because they were used to counting notes accurately and quickly. With the reduction of both bank branches, EROs would be hard pressed to find sufficient bank cashiers to count one ward, never mind a constituency.

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