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Working at the count | Sandwell Council

Working at the count

On election day, once the polls close at 10pm, we must then verify that all the ballot papers in the ballot box match to the number issued to each polling station. The ballot papers are then counted for each candidate.

This is usually done at Tipton Sports Academy. Please note for the May 2021 elections, votes will be counted at Sandwell Valley Country Park.

We have a number of roles available at the count, which is where we verify and count the votes and sort out the equipment that has been returned from the polling stations.

All staff will be required to use a rapid test to check they do not have Covid-19. Find out how to get rapid tests to use at home if you are working at the election.

This year we will be verifying votes votes in all three elections overnight on Thursday 6 May 2021. We will then be counting the votes for the local election during the daytime on Friday 7 May.

The votes for the Police and Crime Commissioner and West Midlands Mayoral election will then be counted during the daytime on Saturday 8 May 2021.

If you work for Sandwell Council and you work at the count on the night of Thursday 6 May 2021, you will be given a day's special leave from your usual job on Friday 7 May 2021.

If you work for Sandwell Council and you work at the count on Saturday 8 May and Saturday is a normal working day for you, you will be given a day's special leave from your usual job on Saturday 8 May. If Saturday is not a normal working day for you, you will not be given an extra day’s leave.

Count assistants

Count assistants count the marked ballot papers. First they check the amount returned from each polling station, then sort into piles for each candidate.

For Thursday night counts, the count starts after polling stations close at 10pm and ballot boxes start to arrive at the count venue. Staff are required to stay until the count is finished, and help pack up equipment at the end. This is usually around 4am but can sometimes be later.

If there is more than one election, the count can happen overnight and may continue over the following day or days.

We employ several hundred count staff to count the votes, working in teams, each with supervisors. For 2021, we need around 200 people to count votes on  the evening of Thursday 6 May and a further 200 to count votes on Saturday 8 May.

Full training is given via video beforehand and a briefing on the night. Please note that refreshments will not be provided at the 2021 count.

Count assistants for unused ballot papers

Count assistants for unused ballot papers count the unused ballot papers returned from the polling stations. We have to account for all of the ballot papers given to the polling stations, whether they have been used by voters or not. 

Staff count the books of ballot papers and record a figure for each polling station and then box up the ballot papers to go into storage.

Sign up to work at the count

If you’ve previously worked at an election count for Sandwell Council, we already have your details and the elections team will be in touch with you about your role.

If you volunteered to work at the 2020 elections before they were postponed, we will contact you.

If you would like to work at this year's count and you have not worked at one before, apply by filling in this form.