Spelthorne Borough Council: STAFFING AND ACCURACY
“We knew that making such a major change to the way that we run our polling stations, we needed to bring staff along with us."
Spelthorne Borough Council deployed Modern Polling across the entire borough for the first time during the local government elections in May 2023.
This followed a successful period using the digital polling station platform during several by-elections in the borough.
The election also represented the first time that the production of Voter ID had been a legal requirement for elections in England.
Spelthorne Borough Council’s electoral services team had an experienced team of election staff, many of them having worked at polling stations across the borough over the course of several years.
As a result, they had a well-honed knowledge and familiarity with the traditional paper-based form of voter check-in and processing.
Moving to Modern Polling represented a major change in a long-established practice.
Modern Democracy provided a full training programme for all Spelthorne Borough Council election staff to ensure they were comfortable using it on election day.
The Modern Polling platform itself is designed to be simple and intuitive to use, requiring minimal training while some users find they can just pick and go.
We used Modern Polling for the first time in all polling stations across Spelthorne Borough Council in the May 2023 elections having previously tried it in two or three venues across five or six polling stations at by-elections.
This was a fantastic way to test the system on a smaller scale and to train our staff.
Change can be difficult, and some people were sceptical to start with. We knew that making such a major change to the way that we run our polling stations, we needed to bring staff along with us.
However, when you get going on Modern Polling, it is so easy and it tells you what you need to do as you go along, even without the formal training.
On polling day, itself, it is also so much easier for election staff.
In terms of set up, they get their tablet and log in to it rather than having to get their registers and their CNLs out and everything else. Meaning significantly less paperwork.
When you are tired and you are busy, mistakes can happen so the fact that the system will tell you the next ballot number and if you have made a mistake such as picking up two, it will tell you.
All of that is a real positive and when you have been there from 6am and non-stop during the day, when you submit your ballot paper account, it is instant.
Even if someone has not brought their poll cards, it is so much quicker, you just search for them on the tablet.
Voter ID has obviously also been a tremendous change but with Modern Polling, this was so easy. Modern Democracy simply built this in as another step in the system, staff were not having to complete a separate form.
Then it was a case of just pulling off the report at the end of the night.
We have a Chief Executive who was very keen to move forward and investing in Modern Polling has allowed us to do that.
For me, new into the role of Electoral Services Manager, I do not think I would have got through it without Modern Democracy helping me in the background. It was new to me, so it felt like a lot of pressure doing the upload, but I had expert and pro-active support doing it.
In fact, I got so much more support than I expected. I would recommend it to other local authorities