More people in Lincoln have registered to vote in the lead-up to the 2015 general and local elections than ever before, in the constituency’s 750th anniversary.
With exactly one week to go before voters flood to the polling stations on May 7, and registration now closed, the City of Lincoln Council are marking historic figures.
For the parliamentary elections, 74,012 people in Lincoln are registered to vote. Some 67,557 people are registered to vote in the local election.
Altogether, 18,666 postal votes have already been registered for, and there are 219 proxy voters.
The council has received postal and proxy votes from as far afield as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Kuwait.
Lincoln, which is the oldest constituency in continuous existence in the UK, had a parliamentary election turnout of 62.3% in 2010 (60.4% turnout for locals).
People on May 7 will place their crosses from 62 Lincoln parliamentary and 55 City of Lincoln Council polling stations between the hours of 7am and 10pm.
This year, to save any issues as the 10pm deadline tolls, people standing in queues will be issued with a wrist band which ensures their vote is still counted.
Some 250 volunteers and staff members are being drafted in for the Lincoln counts and, in preparation, the team have undergone what the council describe as ‘military operation’ training.
The counts for both elections will take place at the Drill Hall in Lincoln, beginning with the parliamentary election, once polling stations are closed at 10pm.
Acting Chief Executive Angela Andrews spoke to The Lincolnite about the work that the democratic services team have been doing to encourage more people to register.
Angela took on the role of Acting Chief Executive in September 2014, and will be acting as the returning officer on the night of the count.
She said:”It’s a real privilege to be involved because this is democracy at work and, although it really is a team effort, me being involved has brought some fresh eyes to the process.”
In highlighting areas where previously voting registration numbers had been fewer, the team mapped the increases per area.
“Carholme ward is probably one of the significant ones, as well as Park ward the area surrounding the Carlton Centre where we have seen significant increases.
“We used people on the ground, like some of our neighbourhood management who were involved in engaging with communities; we also used posters across 12 different bus stops and used them in the Your Lincoln Magazine.
“Now though, it’s about getting people to use their vote. If we got a 70% turnout for the general and 70% for the local elections, then we would have about 100,000 votes to count.”
Principal Democratic Officer at the City of Lincoln Council Steve Swain, who started his election career as a poll clerk in 1977, added: “We were aware that areas that had fewer registered voters included student-populated areas, so with the help of the university in providing information and emails about how to register.
“We also have to consider the registration numbers to the turnout number on the day. Probably for the parliamentary voters you’ll be looking at a predicted 60% to 65% turnout rate from those registered.”
As previously reported, there were a few voters in Lincoln who were facing potential problems with the registration process, as it appeared that more than 20 names were recorded twice on the register.
Steve added: “We don’t think we actually issued any duplicate postal votes at any time. We are always running reports to check for any duplications every day, so I think there was just a moment in time where it had’t been done for that day.
“We’re not convinced that any poll cards were duplicated and no one showed us any evidence to suggest it.”