Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A day at the Polling Station.

Our Group Business Development Manager, Nicki Newburn, spent the day of the referendum at a Polling Station in Peterborough.
Whilst over 70% of us turned out to vote (well done everyone), there are far fewer of us who have seen voting from the other side of the counter.
As Nicki had a fantastic experience, she wanted to share some of it with others.

“The day began with an early start as we met at 5:50am.  The office had to be manned from the start making sure that people were available for any polling station set up problems (for example, a pub venue was not opened up ready) or for any of the vast number of staff that may have been taken ill overnight and no longer be able to work – replacements were certainly going to be needed!

The polling stations call or text, right up to 6:45am, advising that they are set up and ready for the voters.  The phones are busy getting calls throughout the day from people requiring proxy votes at the last minute (if unable to vote due to illness of work commitments).  People can apply for emergency proxy votes up until 5pm on Election Day.

At this point I had a McDonald’s breakfast! (I’m told we need to keep fuelled with food and drink to see us through the long shift)!

Then, we have to get the highways team to go round and remove all the Leave/Remain signs that have gone up round town over night.

Mid morning I was up with postal voting – opening the packs that have been sent in, checking the signatures and dates of births match with the EMS.  Any we are unsure on are checked and either passed or rejected – it is obvious that some have been signed on behalf of the voter, so these are rejected.

The polling station inspectors are in and out all day with queries and issues – disabled access ramps being blocked, banners for Remain or Leave being put up outside, two people with the same name going to vote (which one was registered!?).  It is a very busy day, I can’t believe we’ve been on the go for 13 hours!

Eventually it is time to go back to the hotel, I have 30 minutes to have a quick shower and freshen up before back out to the count venue for 7pm.  On the way there a lots of ‘Vote Remain’ supporters out in the town touting for support.

The count venue is a huge conference centre – we have count stations in the main room, plus a huge television playing BBC news.  There are stations for the ballots from each side to go on later, so everyone can see.  It is quiet now, but by 8pm everyone is arriving.
The first polling station have delivered their ballot boxes to us by 10:10pm – an impressive start! By 11pm we have received them all and the verification process is well under way.
By midnight, Gibraltar are the first to declare with a high remain majority, not far behind is Newcastle, again voting remain.  Sunderland soon swing in with a vote to leave.  It is looking very tight.

Throughout the night it swings between remain and leave, but it feels a long way to go to the final result.  We declare our results at 2:25am (making excellent time)! 
It was an amazing experience, I couldn’t have comprehended how the day was going to go.  The fact that I am still awake after 24 hours pretty much sums it up!”

It sounds like quite the day!

If you want to read the take of our CEO, Dave Broadway, on the Brexit result, we have his words here:

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