Swindon Borough Council Election team go into overdrive after General Election called

Following the announcement in mid-April of a snap General Election on 8 June, and with parish elections having taken place last Thursday (4 May), it is vital people know the election timetable and have made suitable arrangements to ensure their vote count.

Almost 5000 voter registrations have already been made in Swindon since the General Election was announced on 18 April. For Sally Sprason, the Electoral Services Manager and her team, the elections have professional as well as personal significance.

As the Council’s Deputy Returning Officer, from the moment the Prime Minister announced the General Election, life for Sally and her colleagues went into overdrive, simply adding to their already-busy workload as they prepared for the Parish Elections. Actually on leave when the General Election was called, Sally was on the phone to her office immediately to assess the most urgent priorities, and then back at her desk just a few hours later.

The Electoral Services team are responsible for coordinating every aspect of polling day in Swindon, including responding to hundreds of voting registration applications – many of them duplicates from residents wanting to double check their eligibility. The team also have to set up the 102 voting stations across the borough and recruit some 600 staff to run the stations and handle the count.

Other important tasks for Sally and her colleagues, with the deadline totally non-negotiable, include sorting through some 30,000 postal votes, and sending out voting cards for approximately 150,000 people.

“It’s our job to help Swindon residents play their full part in the democratic process,” said Sally, who is the Council’s Electoral Services Manager. “And I would encourage residents to ensure that they are registered to vote by the 22 May deadline, particularly if they have moved house.

“My team and I have already put in evening and weekend work to ensure the whole process works seamlessly, both in the run-up to polling day and on election day itself. With the Parish elections now complete, we are fully focussed on the General Election.

“Organising the count is a huge task, but we want to get it right and get a declaration out as quickly as possible. Traditionally Swindon is among the frontrunners for announcing results, so we are always under a national spotlight as an indicator of how the election is going.”

Sally added: “There are several myths that I’d like to dispel early on: you don’t need your poll card to be able to vote, you don’t need to re-register if you have done so before in Swindon, but you definitely do have to register in your new area each time you move house.

“Remember that anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to vote, although you can still register at 17. If you’re living away from home, as a student for example, you can register to vote either in your university location or back in Swindon, but you have to choose which one and register accordingly.

“Voter turn-out in the Borough at the last General Election was about 65%, and it would be great if we could beat that figure this time round.

“Full details of how to register, with key dates and deadlines, are on the Council website at Register to Vote, and you can register to vote at Register to vote online or in person at the Civic Offices in Euclid Street, or you can phone Customer Services on 01793 445500.”

Don’t miss key election dates and deadlines:

  • Publication of Notice of Poll — Thursday 11 May 2017
  • Receipt of Nominations 4:00 pm — Thursday 11 May 2017
  • Publication of Statements of Persons Nominated — 5:00 pm Thursday 11 May 2017
  • Last Date for Registration — Monday 22 May 2017
  • Receipt of Postal Vote Applications — 5:00 pm Tuesday 23 May 2017
  • Receipt of Proxy Vote Applications — 5:00 pm Wednesday 31 May 2017
  • Day of Poll 7:00 am to 10:00 pm — Thursday 8 June 2017