Supplementary memorandum by DocQwise Business
Services Ltd (POS 46(a))
CITY OF SUNDERLAND: MEETING HELD ON 29 JANUARY
1. Presentation by John Sills, Head of Electoral
Policy Division, Department for Constitutional Affairs
John's presentation set out the role of DCA
and ODPM and the different elections and referendums that each
department managed. He also set out the Pilot Bill stages which
would lead to royal assent in mid-march, a detailed Pilot Order
would then follow royal assent. A working party with DCA, ODPM,
Electoral Commission and Regional Returning Officers (RROs) had
met on Friday 23rd January 2004 and some of the important issues
from that discussion were procurement, postal delivery, security,
funding arrangements and project management.
2. Appointment of Co-ordinator/Programme
ManagerOne per County
It was agreed that the Project Management Team,
that had informally been set up, continue to meet throughout the
election period to liaise between RRO and Local Returning Officer
(LRO)one per County area: Steve Taylor (Chair), Bill Crawford
(Sunderland), Mick Miller (Northumberland), Jim Thompson (Durham),
Debby Frost (Tyne & Wear), Brian Siswell (Tees Valley).
Ballot Paper (including large print).
It was agreed that the RRO would produce Notices
of Election and Poll in electronic or hard copy (LRO to advise)
and a template of the ballot paper to be used and sufficient large
print ballot papers for Supported Delivery Points (SDP)LROs
to advise on quantity.
4. Preparation and issue of ballot papers:
Printing and distribution to electors
of Security Statements/return envelopes.
Issuing replacements as necessary.
It was agreed that LROs would be responsible
for procuring the printing of ballot papers, Security Statements,
elector instructions and envelopes and for the distribution of
ballot paper packs to electors.
On 3 February 2004 DCA have confirmed that the
Pilot Order will provide for:
(a) A white ballot paper for the European
Election (which will include on the reverse a unique identifying
number and a bar code)note the depth allowed for each party
or individual candidate will be 3.5 cm as set out in The European
Parliamentary Elections Regulations 2004 (previously circulated).
The official mark can be in the form of a watermark, underprinting
or heat sensitive ink.
(b) Where combined local elections are taking
place a grey ballot paper (which will include on the reverse a
unique identifying number and a bar code) for local elections
printed in accordance with the Local Elections Principal Area
(c) A numbered ballot paper envelope.
(d) Outward Window envelope.
(e) Return Window envelope.
(f) A Security Statement, the wording of
which will be supplied by Electoral Commission (EC), and signed
only by the elector. The reverse of the Security Statement will
include the Returning Officers address, a unique identifying number
(not the electoral number) and a bar code (to enable returns to
be scanned through the returned window envelope). Only one Security
Statement will be used for single and combined elections.
(g) Provision has been made in the event
of Parish elections or Parish by-elections for a lilac ballot
(h) Provision will be made to allow for combining
items together eg Security Statement and information literature
or combined ballot papers to cut down on the number of inserts.
(i) The elector will also be supplied with
instructions on how to complete and return the ballot papers,
wording supplied by EC. The reverse will include the electors
address details, designed to fit in the outward window envelope.
Please note that one piece mailers, ballot papers
that fold in on themselves to create an envelope effect or any
other innovations will not be allowed.
5. Service provider (Royal Mail?) to deliver
All LROs indicated they intended to use Royal
Mail (RM) to deliver and return ballot papers. RM intends setting
up Business Reply Licences for each local authority and where
combined elections are being held, for each ward within that authority.
RM will issue, in the next few days, guidance on window envelopes
to be used and will issue all LROs with a "good practice
RM have appointed Customer Operations Managers
David MatthewsDarlington, Derwentside,
Durham, Teesdale, Sedgefield and Wear Valley.
Clare ThomsonHartlepool, Middlesbrough,
Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton.
Elaine StuartEasington, Newcastle and
Bill OxbroughGateshead and Sunderland.
Sharon ClarkeNorth Tyneside and all of
LROs will be approached by Royal Mail in the
next two weeks to discuss their requirements. RRO will advise
on contracts to obtain best discounts available.
RROs are being advised by Royal Mail that they
intend to make available for collection at 8.30 pm on 10 June
2004 ballot papers posted that day. LROs will need to make arrangements
with their Customer Operations Manager.
6. Houses in multi occupationStudents
LROs to be aware of Government concerns regarding
security of votes in HIMO's, particularly students who may be
away from their term time address.
LROs are to be supplied with a CPS hotline within
each region to report allegations of suspected fraud.
7. Scanning of returned envelopes to produce
"polling progress information" (marked registers)
LROs will need to ensure that their election
management system provides for scanning returned ballot papers
on a daily basis and for the production of lists in an electronic
or hard copy format. Systems will also need to be able to invalidate
ballot papers and issue replacements. Note the Pilot Order will
provide that at combined elections both ballot papers are re-issued
with a new Security Statement, and that electors will be requested
to provide the LRO with identification before a replacement can
Provisions and processes will need to be in
place to record and match ballot papers and Security Statements
that arrive separately.
8. Supported Delivery Points:
Voters able to mark vote in secret
(with assistance if required).
Number of Delivery Points.
Information printed in other languages.
Unmanned drop off points not allowed.
LROs are asked to provide the RRO with details
of the number of Supported Delivery Points (SDPs) they intend
to use. It was agreed that SDPs would be open from the period
Royal Mail deliver the ballot papers, and that the regulations
would provide for at least one SDP per principal area and it must
be open until the close of poll at 10.00 pm. Justification will
have to be made for additional SDPs.
Close of nominations13 May.
First postal vote deadline25
Delivery to Royal Mail26 May.
Post to electors27 May.
Verification3, 8 and 10 June.
Close of Poll10.00 pm 10 June.
TimetableDCA are looking at the possibility
of moving the timetable back two days to allow more time to print
the ballot paper packs, they are also looking at combining and
changing postal vote deadlines, LROs will still be required to
submit ballot paper packs to Royal Mail on 26 May 2004.
Verificationwill be at the discretion
of the LRO, however for consistency LROs may wish to consider
verifying on the above dates. It is likely that the Pilot Order
will mandate that ballot papers during the verification procedure
are face down.
Close of Pollis confirmed at 10.00 pm
10 June 2004 and LROs will be required to supply the RRO with
the verified total figure on Thursday 10 June 2004 after 10.00
pm (RRO to supply forms and procedures).
10. Unsigned Security Statements:
The Pilot Order will require that LROs return
to electors unsigned Security Statements discovered during the
verification process. It would seem logical that the latest time
to post unsigned Security Statements out would be Tuesday 8 June
Although no Poll Card is required, LROs will
be required to have delivered (by hand or by Royal Mail) to either
every elector or every household a leaflet designed by DCA in
consultation with EC, precise details will follow.
E-counting (any interest?).
Result to RRO after 9.00 pm.
LROs interested in e-counting will be required
to submit a business plan and a cost analysis to ODPM as a matter
of urgency. It is likely that the criteria will be value for money
by local authorities working in partnership or by demonstrating
to ODPM that the e-counting element enhanced the e-pilot programme.
Sunday 13 Juneit was agreed that LROs
would count votes on Sunday 13 June 2004 and that the result of
the count could not be shared with local agents until after 9.00
pm. Count staff would be required to remain at the count centre
until at least 9.00 pm in the event of a re-count being requested
locally. The LRO would then, after clearing the result locally,
forward the figures to the RRO for clearance. Procedures and paperwork
will be agreed and supplied by RRO at a later date.
LROs are reminded that documents are to be retained
for 24 months and if this incurs a storage charge, the RRO will
advise DCA and seek necessary approval.
13. Contingencies/Back up
John Sills reported that there was a remote
possibility that the Pilot Bill would fall and LROs were asked
to prepare contingencies in the event of having to revert to a
Kate Sullivan, Assistant Director,
Policy, Electoral Commission.
Kate Sullivan reported on the evaluation process
the EC has, by law, to complete for pilots, and also outlined
the training programme.
15. Fees & Charges:
John Sills recorded that the Fees and Charges
Order has been worked on by his staff and representatives from
the RRO group and was almost finalised. Work would then begin
on an Order for the pilot areas which may be similar to the ODPM
proposals for the Referendum, where an amount per elector and
an amount per returned vote were being tested.
16. Regional Referendum:
Stephen Judson, Referendums Team,
Stephen Judson reported on the progress being
made on the Regional Referendum likely to be held on 21 October
2004 and urged LROs to complete the Fees and Charges spreadsheet
that had been circulated to them in order that the EC could evaluate
if the proposed amounts per elector and return vote met the needs
to run the election.
Review of local government (where
Two Ballot papers or one?.
Concern was expressed by LROs at the ODPM proposal
to send them boxes of maps to insert into ballot paper packs.
The RRO has subsequently contacted EC to suggest templates instead
of pre-printed documents.