When you’ve got to the very end of the Election Campaign and Election Day itself, the only thing left when the Polling Stations close at 10pm, is the Count itself.
What usually happens next is usually a mad dash between the Polling Stations and the venue that has been selected to hold the Count.
Local Authority Election Counts can be delayed if the Election Day itself is shared with a National Election or Referendum. If this is the case, the Count will probably take place on the Friday after the Election.
The time of the Count itself is always at the discretion of the Returning Officer who will be in charge at the Count itself.
The Count will begin as soon as possible at the allotted time, but can be delayed if Ballot Boxes have been delayed or if a complaint has been made regarding the conduct of the Election.
As a Candidate, you will automatically be invited to the Count and asked to identify anyone you wish to take with you, as access is normally by invitation only.
It is normal to take your spouse or partner, along with your agent and/or some close family members or people who have worked on your campaign.
Numbers of those able to attend will be limited. So don’t be disappointed if you are only able to take one or two key people with you.
There are no rules that say Candidates must attend the Count. So if you feel you would rather not go, nobody will chase you.
Once the Count begins, not all Wards and Divisions will be counted at the same time and you may have to wait for your own Count to begin – so take refreshments or have money available to buy some, as these will normally be provided. (Check with your Democratic Services Department if you are unsure)
When your Count is underway, you and your representatives will be allowed to watch the counting take place. It is a really good idea to take this opportunity as you will soon begin to get an idea of how the election has gone for you.
When the Count has been completed, the Returning Officer will speak to the Candidates quietly first, to confirm the results.
If the Count is very close, you can request a recount.
Recounts are worth requesting if there are literally only a few votes between winning a seat and not being elected. A small margin of error is always possible, and I have seen an Independent win a seat against a Party Candidate on a recount, when the initial count had suggested a result that went the other way!
When the results are either clear, or have been accepted by all the Candidates, the Returning Officer will then formally announce the Result of the Election to the Hall.
The good thing about being told quietly first, is that if the result has been a disappointment, you will have a few moments to gather yourself before everyone else is told.
Regrettably, Counts can feel pretty raucous at times, especially if the Political Party Members are in a competitive mood.
The thing to remember is that it is all noise and even Candidates who are seeking election for the 3rd or perhaps 4th time will be feeling very nervous up and until the Results are finally in.