Up for the count
Hove's my Rita, meter maid...
Comment I recorded the interiors, exteriors, and ballot boxes (etc) for about seven polling stations on Thursday; one further refused me permission to photograph out of caution, specifically in case the public would be upset by the photography. Fair enough: I'd certainly rather election officials err on the side of safety.
As the polls closed I was able to record a couple of ballot boxes being sealed and taken to the secure area where they were held overnight. Then I was able to see almost all the other boxes being brought in from all over Brighton and Hove: I'm not sure that I'd go as far as the policeman's description of the scene as "mayhem", but it certainly was busy.
The boxes were watched overnight by CCTV, security guards, and the police - to be secure, and to be seen to be secure.
Up to this point, and later in the count, I witnessed what seemed to be a number of minor errors, inevitable when you have a complex high-speed operation staffed by human beings rather than robots. I wasn't especially scrutinising the details of the process at that level, but I was reasonably satisfied that there were no really serious problems, and that the overall process corrected the slip-ups.
The count is more public than the previous day's polling, with all the candidates and agents present and the press watching from the balcony, but mine was the only camera allowed in the count room itself. I mainly had to be careful not to capture an image of any ballot paper indicating how a vote had been cast, and this indeed seemed to be the main worry for the council's head of legal services. I was given free rein to go anywhere I wanted to, which is what transparency is all about in practice.
A minor but significant demonstration that the system works as it should, just like that parking ticket...
See the photos and videos here (free for any reasonable use). ®