Ensuring that every single vote counts at the elections

FOR the first time in many years, all 48 seats on Waveney District Council are being contested when people go to the polls next Thursday.

In recent years only a third of seats were contested at any one time so when the big count begins on the following morning it will be a busy day for everyone involved.

Not only will the 156 candidates be on edge, it will also be a challenging time for the election staff and those who have the task of counting all the votes cast.

On top of the district council elections, there will also be town and parish council results to count and the referendum on the alternative voting system for the UK parliament.

The man charged with overseeing the count at Lowestoft's Waterlane Leisure Centre is Waveney District Council's assistant chief executive and returning officer Arthur Charvonia.

Mr Charvonia praised the election staff at the council for their hard work in preparing for the big day and he is confident that everyone will play their part in an efficient and successful operation.

'This is the first time in many years that there have been all-out district elections in Waveney with all 48 district council seats being contested,' Mr Charvonia told The Journal.

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'This is also happening at the same time as the parish and town council elections in the district and the national alternative vote referendum. As a result it is an extremely busy period for all the election staff.'

Mr Charvonia added: 'Everyone at Waveney who is involved in this year's elections is going the extra mile to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible,' This has involved sending out in the region of 90,000 polling cards to residents along with 14,000 postal voter packs.

'I am really pleased to see staff across the council working hard to make sure all the polls are as efficient and effectively organised as possible for our electorate,' said Mr Charvonia.

Despite all the planning and preparation, Mr Charvonia knows it will be a tiring and testing day for those collecting and counting the votes.

The counting is due to start at the leisure centre at 9am and the distict council votes will be counted first followed by the town and parish councils.

'In 18 of the 23 district council wards there are more than one seat available and these multi-seat elections always take much longer to count than single seat elections.

'For this reason it is impossible to tell how long the local election counts will take,' said Mr Charvonia.

What is known for certain is that counting the local election votes will have to be suspended at 3.30pm – whether or not they have been completed.

At this pre-arranged time, the counters in Waveney will prepare – along with those across the country – to count the votes cast in the alternative voting referendum.

'We have been directed by the Electoral Commission that we must start the referendum count at 4pm,' said Mr Charvonia.

Once all the referendum votes have been counted in Waveney, the results will be sent to the eastern regional headquarters and later used to form the national picture.

Everyone who has received a postal voting pack are urged to return their ballot papers and signed postal vote statements as soon as possible.

If residents have any queries or issues relating to the elections they are asked to contact Waveney's election team on 01502 523238 or email elections@waveney.gov.uk

For up-to-the-minute details of all the election results in Waveney as they are announced on Friday, May 6, visit www.lowestoftjournal24.co.uk and for detailed analysis and reaction, see The Journal on Friday, May 13.