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Frequently asked questions about working at an election | Sandwell Council

Frequently asked questions about working at an election

Can anyone work at an election?

To work at the elections you must:

  • be 18 years of age to work in a polling station
  • have a national insurance number
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • be able to correspond via email, as all job information/appointments will be shared via email
  • You do not need to work for the council already to work for elections.

We also stipulate that you cannot work for elections if you have campaigned on behalf of a candidate or party, nominated a candidate or have a personal relationship with an elected representative or candidate.

How do I apply to work at an election?

If you’ve previously worked at an election 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 apply to work and the election and you haven't done this before, you can apply by filling in this form.

What Covid-19 safety measures will be in place for the 2021 elections?

Polling stations will be safe places to vote. Our election count will also have strict social distancing and hygiene procedures in place. Find out more about keeping the election Covid-safe. Please also see further questions and answers below regarding Covid-19 safety at polling stations and the count.

Once I have been given a role at the election, can I change it?

No, you will not be able to change roles once  you have been appointed.

Covid-19 safety questions

Will I need to be tested before I can work on a polling station or at the count?

Yes - 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.

Do I need to wear a mask for the whole time I'm working at a polling station or at the count?

Yes. The wearing of the required PPE will need to be in place for the duration of the job role. You will need to take regular breaks where you can remove your face covering.

Will I be supplied with face coverings/PPE?

Where the risk assessments prescribes certain levels of PPE you will be supplied with these.

Would staff need to leave the area to eat/drink as this would require taking their masks off?

You will be asked to bring food and drinks with you for your own consumption. We strongly suggest that do not eat and drink at the table as you will need to remove your mask. If you do eat or drink then you will have to clean hands before and after and put on a new, clean mask. You will have regular breaks where you will be able to take your face covering off, eat and drink and wash your hands.

If people who are exempt from wearing face coverings are present at the count hall, would it be beneficial to ask them to wear visors?

This will depend entirely upon the reason for their exemption and will be discussed at an individual level. We are unable to insist those that are exempt wear a face covering.

What do I have to do if I know someone with Covid-19 symptoms?

If you or a member of your household has Covid-19 symptoms you must self-isolate at home and not work at the polling station / count. If you have been told you are a contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19 you must self-isolate at home and not work at the polling station / count.

What should I do if someone becomes symptomatic at the polling station or count venue?

If a staff member develops symptoms whilst working then they would need to leave immediately. The area they have been working in will need to be cleaned straight away. If social distancing and use of masks has been in place that will minimise contacts. If there has been a breach in PPE / social distancing then the contact does not need to immediately leave as it takes 2-14 days after exposure to become infected. 

Is there a limit to the number of times you can use hand gel before you need to wash your hands?

There is no set amount of times but the gel works until your hands start to feel a bit sticky then you will need to wash your hands. You will need to wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet. At the count, you will need to use hand gel regularly and certainly before touching face/ removing mask.

At polling stations, will voters be required to come in one way and out another?

Where possible dependent on the venue one way entrance and exits will be in place. Where different entrances/exits aren't available - there will be a PC stationed at the door to control the flow of people coming in and out.

Presiding officers may need to assist some voters (for example those with a disability.) How will this work with social distancing?

The PO will have to assess this on an individual basis based on the elector's specific needs. However all relevant PPE must be worn, keep at a safe distance if possible and then you must wash your hands and change your mask after assisting the elector.

How may people are allowed in to a polling station at one time?

There will be strict limits to all stations. In most cases it will be by a one in, one out basis. However if the size of the rooms allows then electors may be able to queue inside the polling station as long as they are 2m apart. Only one elector should use a polling booth at a time.

What happens if someone comes into a polling station without a face covering? Can we ask them to put one on?

We are not entitled to enquire as to why a person is not wearing a face covering nor can we insist they wear one. (Anyone can self-declare as exempt from wearing face coverings). Signage will be provided which states face coverings should be worn (unless exempt) and we can only ask that they read the signage.  Spare masks will be provided and you can offer these to anyone that may have forgotten theirs.

Will there be barriers for voters to walk round, similar to queuing for vaccines?

There won't be barriers provided but there will be signage and floor stickers which guide the elector through the one way system.

If someone comes into a polling station wearing a sunflower lanyard (hidden disabilities) do we take that as they are exempt from wearing a mask?

We are not entitled to enquire as to why a person is not wearing a mask nor can we insist they wear a mask. Signage will be provided which states masks must be worn and we can only ask that they read the signage.  Spare masks will be provided and you can offer these to anyone that may have forgotten theirs.

Do polling station and count staff who have been vaccinated still need to wear mask and visor?

Yes, it doesn’t matter if you have had the vaccine, or had Covid-19 everyone must wear a mask and visor to work at a polling station or the count venue.

If staff refuse to wear PPE will they not be able to work?

If the risk assessment specifies a certain level of PPE and the staff member refuses to follow that risk assessment then yes you can say that they cant work as it is a clear breach of the health and safety requirements to carrry out the role safely.