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The Effective Activist Part 5: Voter Identiification

For our purposes the smallest unit about which we have hard information is the polling district. Most polling stations have only one ballot box. If there is a large population there may be two ballot boxes.

The Electoral Roll lists every street in the polling district, in alphabetical order. Within each street the houses are usually listed as odd and even, reflecting the normal arrangement of a street. A street with houses only on one side will of course be in numerical order reflecting the street.

Within each house the voters are listed. As we now have individual registration instead of household registration the names reflect the order in which the names arrived at the council offices rather than head of household, spouse, and children in age order as was the norm with household registration.

The first issue then is to establish who actually lives in the house. Are there people living there who forgot to register? You have a form which you complete with them. Are there children living away? Do they need a postal vote? You give a form. Both processes can be done online but many people are shy of using a computer or do not have a computer.

Some people argue that you should first find out if these would be voters are Labour supporters or not. I take the view that democracy is important and everyone should vote. I take my instruction on this issue from the Campaigns Organiser. Of course if the person who answers the door is a virulent opponent I leave quietly.

Not everyone in a household will necessarily agree. There are lots of couples who walk to the polling station together and they cancel each other out. Much of the time the people in the house will know how the other adults vote. They will often be right. If you can ask individuals check with each individual. Otherwise go with the information given.

With voter identification the process can be quite nuanced and sophisticated. Are they really all carbon copies of Dad? Perhaps best to take telephone numbers and telephone canvass them later.

With Labour voters the answer is often that the household is solid Labour. Try then for postal votes, posters, membership, and your lottery. If they are still positive ask about delivering leaflets. Do they wish to be informed of our social events?

One of my canvassers asked for advice on how to record one voter. After effing and blinding about there was no way he would effing vote Labour he said

“Councillor James? I will vote for him. He helped my sister in law.”

I told her to mark him “Against” because he will vote for me but otherwise he will not vote Labour. We leave him alone.

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