There are just 17 days to go before residents in South Holland and the Deepings go to the polls.
Numerous volunteers and council staff will face a sleepless night at one of the 70 polling stations across the district before the names of the next MP and district and parish councillors are finally announced.
Already months of preparations have taken place to make sure everything in the run-up to Polling Day on Thursday, May 7, and the count runs smoothly.
Following closure of nominations for both the parliamentary and local elections last Thursday, the hard work is still only just beginning for the Electoral Services Team at South Holland District Council.
Now the attention of returning officer for the district, Anna Graves, is on ensuring residents are registered to vote.
Anna said: “I urge anyone who isn’t already registered to vote to make sure of their vote by registering before the deadline of next Monday, April 20.
“If you are unsure whether you are registered, please call us on 01775 761161.”
This year South Holland District Council’s elections team has had the task of organising parliamentary, district and parish elections and it spent the last week finalising nominations for all the candidates.
All nominations had to be delivered by hand to the council offices in Priory Road, Spalding, by 4pm on Thursday, April 9.
Once the deadline passed, the process of publishing the list of candidates standing began.
As well as being published on the council’s website, the team were required to put up a board outside the council offices displaying candidates’ names for the general public.
The team is also responsible for training the presiding officers and poll clerks, who will be staffing the polling stations across the district.
Anna said: “Everyone involved in this year’s elections has been working extremely hard in preparation for Polling Day and the counts that follow.
“And with only a few weeks to go every tiniest detail is checked and re-checked to ensure that everyone entitled to vote on the day is able to do so.”
With the deadline for voter registration looming, the team will also be busy fielding inquiries from people across the district looking to ensure they are registered to vote.
Registering to vote can also be done online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote All you need is your name, address, date of birth and national insurance number. If you are unsure, call 01775 761161.
Two more important deadlines for residents are 5pm on April 21 for making applications for postal votes (if you have previously registered to make a postal vote, you will need to register again), and 5pm on April 28 for proxy votes (a proxy vote allows you to nominate someone to cast your vote for you).
To register for a postal or a proxy vote visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
Polling Day is Thursday, May 7, from 7am until 10pm. For South Holland and The Deepings, the count will be held at the Springfield’s Events and Conference Centre in Spalding.
Ballot boxes from the polling stations will start to arrive at Springfields from 10pm when verification can then start.
Verification is where count staff check that the number of ballot papers in each box matches the number stated on the ballot paper account.
Once verification is complete the count of the Parliamentary ballot papers gets under way and is likely to finish in the early hours of Friday morning, ensuring a long and intensive night for everyone involved.
Once all the votes are counted, the five Parliamentary candidates will gather on stage and the results will be announced by the returning officer.
A similar process is followed for the count of district and parish elections which will begin at 2pm on Friday, May 8.
The returning officer will also announce the results for each of the 18 district council wards as they come in, plus the five contested parishes in the district.
Facts and Figures
* The District of South Holland contains 18 wards.
* The total number of District Councillors representing the wards is 37.
* The district elections will see 73 candidates battling it out for the 37 seats.
* The Conservatives have put forward 34 candidates, the Independents 21, UKIP 11, Lib Dem 2, Green Party 2, Unrepresented 2 and Labour 1.
* At the 2010 general election, a total of 50,188 people voted in the South Holland parliamentary election, a turnout of 65.8 per cent, which was a four per cent increase from the 2005 election.
OUR HUSTINGS EVENT
More than 300 residents will pack the South Holland Centre to see their next MP in the spotlight at the Spalding Guardian Election 2015 hustings.
Tickets for the free event on Thursday, April 23, were snapped up within days of being made available and questions for the candidates are already flooding in to the Guardian offices in The Crescent.
The line-up on stage in the auditorium will be Tory John Hayes, who has been the MP for the past 18 years, Labour’s Matthew Mahabadi, LibDem George Smid, Green Party’s Dan Wilshire and UKIP’s David Parsons.
The evening will begin at 7pm, with a brief address from each candidate before they answer your questions. They will also have the chance to say why you should vote for them.
Anyone who has booked a seat but is now unable to attend is asked to call the South Holland Centre box office on 01775 764777, so the ticket can be re-allocated.