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Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 12:50 UK
The job of ensuring every vote cast in Liverpool counts
counting votes
Liverpool's election team will count thousands of votes on 6 May

When the polls close at 2200BST on 6 May a long night is just beginning for local council election teams.

With thousands of votes ready to be counted David Kidger, Liverpool City Council's Election Manager, is charged with ensuring all goes to plan in the city's five constituencies.

His area has around 330,000 electors and 219 polling stations.

"It's a massive undertaking, we employ about a thousand people on the day," David told BBC Radio Merseyside.

As well as the general election, the city's election team is also dealing with the local elections for Liverpool City Council which are taking place simultaneously.

"One of the main headaches is there are so many complications this year about joining the two elections together," David explains.

"We've got instructions about parliamentary that overlap with rules about local and city.

"The worst that could happen is that a polling station doesn't open or ballot papers are printed wrongly, or the names on the ballot paper are wrong.

"We check, check and double check.

"It started last September when we started putting the contingency plan together.

"The nerve centre is in Room 230 of the Municipal Buildings, which is where I usually work."

David Kidger
David Kidger, Liverpool City Council Elections Manager

David is currently camped out amongst the panelled walls and packed bookshelves of Liverpool's Central Library, where he sits surrounded by all the paraphernalia required for an election.

"This is where we put everything together, this is where all the postal votes come back to to be opened and checked," he explains.

"This is where all the presiding officers are trained, it's where all the presiding officers pick up the ballot boxes and where we put the equipment and the ballot boxes.

"There's a massive amount of equipment that goes in."

When the polls shut at 2200BST on Thursday, 6 May teams of workers swing in to action to collect ballot boxes then verify and count the votes in to the early hours, "They all go to the Tennis Centre at Wavertree and we use five of their six tennis courts for counting the ballot papers," says David.

"This year we're verifying Parliamentary and city, although the city papers are then locked up in ballot boxes and sealed away.

"We then, the same night, Thursday night in to Friday morning, count the five Parliamentary constituencies and then at 9am on the Friday we start the count for the 30 wards of the city.

"We stagger it so we don't have presiding officers and poll clerks who've been on during the day counting, so people should come on fairly fresh.

Polling station
There are 219 polling stations in Liverpool

"We don't have the people who've been on the night before in on the Friday, except for me, the returning officer, the core staff, my staff, some of the supervisors and other essential people we've dragged in."

In the following weeks, while new MP's are still finding their way around the corridors of Westminster, the election isn't over for David, "Afterwards I've still got two or three months work dealing with the accounts," he says.

"We pay a thousand people differing amounts, accounting for tax, superannuation all the rest of it.

"And because it's a joint election I've got to account to Liverpool City Council how much they owe the government, whose money I'm spending on this election.

"It's a very complicated process, the money goes mainly on staff and premises, they're the big ones.

"A lot is also on postage, postal votes."

With all this ahead of him David will be busy long after the last ballot box has been stored away, but for now he says he's looking forward to the end of the day on Friday, 7 May, when all the votes both local and national will have been counted, "On Friday night I'm going to have a large vodka," he says.

BBC Radio Merseyside will have full coverage of the results both local and national in a special programme from 10pm on 95.8FM, 1485AM and DAB.




SEE ALSO
How to register to vote
22 Apr 10 |  First-time voter
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10 Feb 10 |  Politics
Election night could be no more
25 Jul 06 |  Politics


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