Behind the scenes at elections

“People think we only work one day a year, but it takes months of preparation to organise an election”

Elections is just one day, right? 

Elections preparation is a half year-long task. Local elections take place the first Thursday of May each year for three years, the fourth year is a ‘fallow’ year when there are no local elections. Each year that local elections are held, a third of our councillors (20) are up for election, but every fourth year from 2024 will be much bigger with the Salford City Mayor and Mayor of Greater Manchester, also up for re-election. Also, other elections may get called, such as the general election on Thursday 4 July 2024.

Row of people sat counting votes, while other people are stood around

When a general election is called, the elections team have just six weeks to carry out work that usually takes six months. It is a period of high intensity and pressure.

When the team aren’t planning for an election, they spend their time updating the list of Salford residents eligible to vote in local and/or national elections. This is called the annual household canvass, which must be done by law. This takes months to come to fruition, with lots of planning, designing and distribution happening in the background. For example, 134,000 properties were issued their own household canvass form in 2023.

Salford’s election team ensures every aspect of an election is delivered on time and in line with regulations and guidance. They support candidates and their agents throughout the whole process, from them submitting their nomination papers to ensuring they have a ticket to enter the count venue. 

Elections is teamwork across the council

The elections team are also accountable for several hundred members of staff in ensuring they are fully trained for their individual role and paid correctly and on time. They work closely with our Human Resources and Organisational Development and Finance teams for this so it’s a real team effort across services. 

The council’s Digital, Data and Technology Team (DDaT) lead on all things digital, such as providing screens for the count itself and the web team are on hand to provide live website updates. Our gateway centres provide a space for the community to ask questions and support residents to apply for voter registration, postal or proxy voting, as well as the free Voter Authority Certificate if they don’t have the acceptable form of photo ID. 

Communications and creative services team colleagues create information and graphics to promote a successful campaign to our residents, from encouraging voter registration, postal voting and reminders about photo ID. The print centre and post room also help in getting everything printed and distributed to our city – for example, in 2023 the new requirement for photo ID was included on every envelope going to households and businesses with their annual council tax or business rates bill. Other teams support too, including the council’s Community Cohesion and Facilities teams, who support with our 146 polling stations across the city. 

Elections is votes coming in! 

For the elections team, the best part of the process is seeing the votes coming in at the counts and hard work paying off. 

Elliot Hogan is the elections manager for the General Election who said: “The atmosphere is always amazing, especially when the results come in. Although we were expecting a General Election this year it came sooner than anyone anticipated, with no real break after the local, Salford City Mayor and Greater Manchester Mayor elections in May. In fact, when it was called, I was in Wales and had to cancel my remaining week’s leave. Our manager Sara is currently on maternity leave, but the team have done an incredible job so far and not long to go until polling day on 4 July. So, a massive thanks to Alison, Ben, Leanne, Adam and Bayley. It’s been an exceptionally busy time but it’s a great opportunity to be part of the national democratic process and serve our community.”

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