'Dress rehearsal' for biggest ever election count
THE rustle of ballot papers filled the halls of the University of the West of England for a 'dress rehearsal' of the election count for Bristol's mayor and police commissioner.
Preparations are well under way for the elections of the mayor and the Avon and Somerset Police commissioner – both of which take place on November 15.
Bristol City Council organised the 'dry run' to ensure it is up and ready for the elections, which could see around 160,000 ballot papers returned for the mayoral vote and up to 500,000 from across the force area for the police commissioner.
The city council is expecting around 2,000 people at the verification and count at UWE's exhibition and conference centre. It has employed around 1,000 people to work at the count, either checking the ballot papers or supervising. People working at the count will be paid £100 for their efforts and those recruited include UWE students, council staff and members of the public.
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A further 1,000 'political people' – including the candidates and their teams and supporters – are expected to pack into the verification and count on November 15 and 16.
The council has set up 160 polling stations for the mayoral election across Bristol.
A further 1,200 polling stations have been set up across the Avon and Somerset area for the commissioner election, which will draw votes from an electorate of around 1.2 million from across nine local authority areas.
Voting for both the new mayor and police commissioner runs from 7am to 10pm when the votes will be collected and verified.
The count will start at 9am on the Friday with the results of both elections expected at around teatime.
It is costing around £600,000 for the mayoral election while the cost of finding a new police commissioner for Avon and Somerset is expected to total around £4 million.
Bristol City Council statutory services officer Yvonne Dawes said: "We always have a run through of the processes as each election is always different. But this is going to be a massive job which requires lots of project management. It is the biggest election count we have ever co-ordinated."
The city council has a video on its website explaining the election process, at www.bristol.gov.uk/vote.