Fenland voters are keen to have their say in EU referendum with a predicted turnout of at least 80 per cent on June 23
- Credit: Archant
Four out of five electors in Fenland are expected to cast their vote on the EU referendum.
Jo Anderson, Fenland District Council’s elections officer, is predicting a massive turnout at polling stations across the district on June 23.
“I expect there will be at least an 80 per cent turnout judging by the strength of interest and the number of enquiries we have had from people,” she said.
Turnout at last year’s general and local elections was just over 60 per cent.
She said as many as 200 or 300 people a day have been rushing to register to vote in the referendum, which will decide Britain’s future in Europe.
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But she said at least a third of those were already registered and blamed confusion caused by literature sent out by central government for the influx.
“There were comments on a leaflet sent out by the government about registering to vote, which has confused people and made them try to register when they are already on the electoral roll,” said Jo.
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Polling cards were sent out to all those in Fenland eligible to vote last month.
The surge in those wanting to make sure they have their say in the referendum caused the national registration website to crash on Wednesday (the original cut off point) forcing the government to announce a 24-hour extension to the deadline.
“The extension has caused a few problems, but we are getting through it,” she said.
The number of enquiries from people concerned about whether or not they are registered to vote has been unprecedented. There is also confusion over who is eligible to vote.
“For instance, those from Eastern European countries who were able to vote in last year’s local elections and the recent police and crime commissioner election, cannot vote this time.”
Polls will open from 7am and close at 10pm on polling day. After the team of 44 counters will begin the major task of first verifying and then counting all the ballot papers.
At 10pm the counting process will begin starting with verification.
Verification of votes is an essential but painstaking part of the counting process in any election.
Every vote has to be counted to make sure they tally with the number of papers issued at the polling stations.
Postal votes also have to be counted and checked. These are run through a machine which checks signatures and people’s dates of birth to make sure they match those given on the postal vote request form.
Once the votes are verified the actual counting process begins.
There will be 11 teams of four counting Fenland’s votes.
They will count the votes first into 25s and then bundle them into 100s.
Votes that are unclear or that have been spoilt will be shown to the referendum agents appointed for voting area to determine whether they are: leave, remain or rejected.
The agents are from groups or individuals who have registered an interest they include representatives of the Leave campaign, the Lib Dems and Labour.
They can appoint up to 11 people each to watch the counting process to ensure it is done correctly.
Once all the votes are counted Paul Medd, Counting Office, will share the provisional result with agents.
At this point the agents have an option to request a recount. If there is no such request, then Mr Medd will tell the Eastern Region Counting Officer that Fenland is ready to declare its result.
The Eastern Region’s central point is Chelmsford, which will be dealing with the results from 47 authorities.
Jo is expecting Fenland’s result to be ready by 5.30am at the latest.