Playing Games While Telling

I find telling at a polling station quite fun. The fun is trying to determine how residents are going to vote or how they have voted. In Wokingham, we targeted two Borough wards (which we won): both were gains. We are developing two other wards in Earley for next year. My ward is one of the development wards.

There are two polling stations in my ward, and on polling day I spent most of the day knocking people up, but I also spent some time at the polling stations. The polling station in the west of the ward was inside a library (the status of the library was a matter of some concern during the elections). When residents came in to vote I tried to guess who they would vote for:

  • From a distance as the residents walking in I watch to see which teller they look at slightly longer than the others to get an indication of who he/she is going to vote for;
  • Some are very chatty and on their way in they give you that last look or a small smile – voting for us;
  • A family approached very tight-lipped and went straight to the polling station. I remembered that they did not engage when I knocked on their door. I had them down as voting Tory. However, on the way out the gentleman shook my hand and his wife gave me a broad smile – they voted Liberal Democrat;
  • Others, more visible, will present a small smile or a nod coming in. Voting Liberal Democrat;
  • Another indicator I believe is when voters on their way out tend to look at (or look for) the person who represents the party they voted for first;
  • Others are more obvious and are very open about their preference;
  • One or two knew the Tory candidate but hesitated and smiled at me on the way in – could well be voting Liberal Democrat;

In the polling station to the west of the ward, the Labour candidate sat there all day greeting voters as long-lost friends. At that some looked bemused, some were not impressed, others were taken aback with the greeting but accepted it with some satisfaction. I am sure the greeting worked well for the Labour candidate as it was warm, friendly and she didn’t try to get the voters’ polling card numbers (she wasn’t quite so friendly at the count).

The fun bit is to do a sample check of the quick smile and looks and nods to estimate what percentage are possibly voting for us – well, it’s a long day. I didn’t win: I got 885 votes and lost by 250, this puts me in a strong position for next year’s election. It was good to read in the Sunday papers labour front bench asking their chairman “How did the Lib Dems get back in the game?”

On a positive note the voters’ attitude towards the Liberal Democrats, while canvassing this year, was upbeat compared to the reaction at the doorstep we faced over the last two years.



* Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team and the Chair of the English Party

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This entry was posted in Humour, Local government and Op-eds.


  • I always find it a bit of a minefield judging how to behave towards the other party tellers. They are invariably polite and even friendly, and obviously one wants to be civil, but I always feel if you are too chatty then the voters might think ‘oh look at them all chumming together, they’re all the same!’ Probably an over-reaction on my part, but I can’t help it. There again I hate polling day in general. Its the one bit of campaigning that I really don’t enjoy.

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 11th May '18 - 1:52pm

    Thanks for your comment Tony

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