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Monday, 20 May 2019 12:30 pm

Election workers gearing up for voting on the big day – and earlier


Dale Shirtliff says an election shift is about 12 hours and a lot of responsibility. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier

About 18,500 will be working on Saturday’s General Election.

There are 295 advance voting places operating around the country and there will be more than 2500 places to vote on Election Day.

All staff are paid and fully trained, and payment varies depending on the role, says Robert Peden from the Electoral Commission.

“A huge percent of our nationwide team are regulars, and many of them have worked on multiple elections,” says Mr Peden, the chief electoral officer.

Dale Shirtliff has worked on about six elections in the past.

The teacher says he chose to partake because the money was good and it was handy working from the school hall, where three or four booths were set up.

“You feel as though you’re providing a good service, allowing people to demonstrate their democratic right,” says Mr Shirtliff.

His duties included putting out the signs and laying out tables with voting forms and ballot boxes, which had to be set in certain places.

From 9am to 7pm the school assembly hall would be bustling with voters coming and going.

Voters tend to come in drips and drabs and at times queues develop.

Political party representatives would come in and observe to make sure the process was going on properly.

“It’s a bit nerve racking having them looking over your shoulder,” says Mr Shirtliff, who is not working this year.

From 7pm the doors closed and the votes were separated into parties. The counting could take hours as everything had to balance.

If there were any discrepancies it had to be redone until all the votes were accounted for and matched the books.

Then the special votes made by travellers and visitors voting outside their electorate had to be put into addressed envelopes to be posted all around the country.

Mr Shirtliff says all addressed envelopes along with ordinary votes had to be dropped off at the electorate HQ where balances were checked before staff could go home.

“It’s a really long day and a huge responsibility.”

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission is encouraging voters to photograph and tweet themselves voting in advance, such as the tweet below:

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