Sunday, 17 May 2009

Postal Voting

The introduction of Postal voting has without doubt change the political landscape of UK elections. The holy grail of traditional political campaigning was to be the last leaflet the voter saw when they left home on the morning of poling day. This was supposed to stay in the voter’s memory and encourage them to vote on the way to work. The traditionally “get the vote out” activity on polling day meant putting tellers outside polling stations and asking people for their name as they entered or left the polling station. The big parties spent years putting together list of names of their supporters and chasing up those who didn’t vote early. This made polling day a very busy, high speed and stressful occasion, requiring loads of volunteers and lots of organisation.

Postal votes have changed all that.

The Holy Grail now is to convert all your supporters into postal voters. These people receive their ballot paper up to two weeks ahead of polling day. For the 2009 European Elections it is possible that half the votes will already be cast by this time next week and that polling will be effectively over by the end of May. The Parties receive daily reports on who has returned their postal vote. No need to hang around polling stations any more, the local authority will e-mail you a complete list at close of play each day. This makes chasing up your laggard supporters much, much easier. The “last minute leaflet” becomes much less important than the last leaflet before the postal votes go out!

The deadline for receipt of applications by the local authority is 5.00pm on TUESDAY 19th MAY. It is against the Code of Conduct for political parties to handle postal votes. If anyone offers to fill your vote out for you JUST SAY NO. Postal vote application forms are best obtained from your local Town Hall or Civic Centre and returned to them before next Tuesday. There is usually an election s office in each Council who deal with this sort of thing. Once you have a Postal Vote you continue with one until you ask to revert to voting in the polling booth. Of course there are third party organisations who will arrange your postal vote for you, the Trade Unions are especially keen to help their members get registered (For a perfect example just check out here.)

In low turn out elections the postal vote becomes even more significant. If the turn out is below 30%, as many plaudits are predicting, the postal vote could easily account for three quarters of all votes cast.

TUESDAY 19th MAY at 5.00pm is the deadline to apply for a postal vote.

Have you got yours yet?

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