Tag Archives: polling day

How I spent Polling Day

During a very long and miserable campaign by both Labour and the Tories, we Liberal Democrats had to resort to some pretty inventive campaign stunts to grab national attention. These efforts  aimed to inject some much-needed positivity into the campaign.

Finally, Election Day arrived, A momentous occasion where the collective voices of millions shape our nation’s future. Where employees (the politicians) meet their managers for their performance review and interviews (the voters). This is my election diary.

Morning:

I was jolted awake by my dad’s cat, whom I am currently looking after.  Begrudgingly, I got out of bed and fed her her second meal of the morning. To unwind, I turned on the news, played some music, and tidied up my dad’s house. The day felt sluggish, and the anticipation of the election results only made time crawl slower. I couldn’t wait for the government to change.

Afternoon:

Feeling restless, I ventured out for a long walk to my local polling station. On my way back, I chatted with various people.  I noticed a concerning trend: many in Stoke-on-Trent Central were planning to vote for Reform UK. Discussions often centred on Farage’s rhetoric about the NHS, immigration, and “woke culture.”

Stoke has a troubling history with far-right politics, having seen the BNP hold council seats and UKIP’s Paul Nuttall come second in the 2016 by-election. Despite its low immigrant population, people feel threatened by immigration.  Stoke’s managed decline since the 1980s of poverty, drug addiction, inadequate housing, and council mismanagement is evident. Unlike Liverpool or Manchester, it hasn’t seen significant regeneration. I remember a local headline from my teenage years promising EU-funded regeneration that never materialised. It worries me that Reform UK’s divisive politics are gaining traction here.

Back home, I recorded a few videos and decided what to wear for the count.

Evening: Voting

I arrived at the polling station, where a clerk reminded me to have my ID ready. I confidently reached into my pocket, only to realise I’d left it at home. Embarrassed, I raced back to fetch it.

10 pm: Exit Poll

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What will you be doing tomorrow?

After 50 days, voters go to the polls tomorrow. Liberal Democrat activists across the country will be doing what they can to get voters to the polls. People will be out on the street from 5am until the polls close at 10.

It’s a gruelling experience, especially if you then have to go to the count. That means more than 24 hours on the go.

Tomorrow is the day that determines how many MPs we will have on Friday. We know that in our key seats, we are in with a real shout to significantly increase our MPs. That will only happen if we have enough people on the ground in those seats to deliver leaflets, knock up our supporters and stand on polling stations.

Elections can be lost on polling day if we don’t have an effective operation or enough people on the ground.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why I’ve always concentrated my effort on target seats:

I could not have it on my conscience to lose a key target by a few hundred votes while I’d concentrated on getting single figures in percentage terms in my home seat. Believe me I have seen that happen several times.

I know how good it has been to have people from across Edinburgh come to help us build our campaign momentum in Edinburgh West. A huge shout out to those who have come over from other parts of the Lothian region and other seats in Edinburgh. Last night in the pouring down rain, we had a huge team knocking on doors. All across the country, key seat campaigns have benefitted from members and activists moving to help them.

It’s so important that we consolidate all that effort by concentrating ALL of our effort in key seats tomorrow. I’d be so blunt as to say that if you are not in the race to win, you should not be doing anything in your own patch. Instead, you could help make the difference in a key seat. We don’t want to lose because we haven’t been able to contact enough voters to remind them to vote. It seems unbelievable that people might forget that it’s election day, but they do. Real life gets in the way. I can’t remember an election where I haven’t been able to get people to vote for us who might not have done so.

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The last risk I expected on polling day was sunstroke

IMG_2856Well done and thank you to everyone who has done anything for the Liberal Democrats in our campaigns culminating today.

What a glorious day it was here in the south of England! – and apologies if the weather in your area wasn’t as great.

My straw hat got its first outing of the year and, as I tramped round the streets of Newbury, I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have such glorious sunshine and warmth.

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What’s your top tip for surviving Polling Day?

Polling Day is one of the most gruelling days in a political activist’s life. By its nature it comes at a time when you are already completely knackered. Liberal Democrats always work all year round, but there’s nothing to rival the intensity of an election campaign. By polling day, everything hurts.

A typical polling day starts before dawn as the early morning leaflets start to go out. Stealth is the key as you try not to wake up dogs or disturb people as you post that leaflet. I know a lot of people who got involved in the party or switched their support to us because of a good Good Morning leaflet, so it’s well worth doing.

For new members who have never done this before, it’s probably worth explaining a few things. Knocking people up isn’t as rude as it sounds. It’s about visiting people who have said they will vote for you and reminding them that the election is happening and how important it is that they vote.

You might also hear the word “shuttleworths” being bandied about. These are the lists of our supporters that we knock up. This is how they got their name, back in the day before computers when they were all hand-written.

Any activist will tell you that you need to keep going till 10 pm. One candidate in a council election lost by 3 votes last year after knocking off at 8 pm. Your polling day operation is really important and could make the difference between winning and losing.

And once the polls have closed, a particularly hardy few have to get themselves to the count and prepare themselves to concentrate as the votes are verified and counted. In a big national election, you may well be up for 24 hours or more.

So, how do you survive it?  You aren’t going to get much opportunity to rest, but you should take a short break after every stint to have some food (preferably involving carbs) and a nice cup of tea. There is not a challenge in life that can’t be helped by drinking tea. That’s a lesson taught to be by my beloved Granny and I swear by it. She would kill me if she knew I was making it with a teabag in a cup, mind you.

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