Why do poll workers volunteer?

Electoral musical chairs comes to Wales - will voters and politicians lose out?Elections could not happen without the hundreds of thousands of people who give up their time to staff polling stations and ensure votes are issued, cast & counted. These poll workers are a crucial resource for electoral officials and many countries experience problems recruiting sufficient numbers of poll workers. Indeed, approximately 120,000 people are estimated to have worked in the 2015 British general election.

Given these are potentially high stress, low pay temporary positions, this poses an important question for electoral democracy and those interested in electoral integrity: why do people choose to give up their time to provide this crucial service to their fellow citizens?

Alistair Clark and I present some findings in an conference paper for the UK Political Studies Association conference next week.

It is a first draft so any comments welcome!

Download it here: here


New report: Getting the missing millions back on the electoral register

picture 2

Toby James presenting the report to an All Party Parliamentary Group on 8th March 2016.

The number of people on the UK electoral register has been in long-term decline.  It was estimated that up to 7.5 million people were not registered in 2014.


At the end of the transition to individual electoral registration, there are another 1.4 million fewer names on the register. Dramatically, the number of attainers, our next generation of voters, fell by 40%.

Last week, Bite the Ballot and I presented a draft report to the All-Party Parliamentary Party on Democratic Participation.  This provided a 24 point action plan for how levels of electoral registration could be improved.

report on the missing millionsThe report also included some headlines from a survey of electoral officials that I have undertaken.  Half of electoral administrators said that they had thought about leaving their job at some point in the last year. Why does this matter? Because running elections is difficult and we will only see more problems without experienced, dedicated and motivated staff who aren’t stretched beyond capacity.

You can read more about the report in this PSA blog.

And download the report here: