I HAVE a certain sympathy with SB Oliver about the way “number takers” do their job at polling stations, but the reason they are there is to try and record which electors have voted, supporters and non-supporters, so they are not called on unnecessarily later in the day, when party activists are trying to persuade electors to vote.
Certainly my volunteers when I was a Tory agent were always instructed to ask for the number politely, and if the voter didn’t want to give it, leave it at that. Harassment was not part of their remit.
The main reason for any of these activities is to get your particular candidate elected, a perfectly legal, and democratic activity, and over the years I have seen some very ingenious, and efficient, methods used in committee rooms to record the information from number takers so voters are not “harassed” on their doorsteps, and party activists are not wasting time calling on voters who have voted.
Some years ago one ward, not a million miles away, actually persuaded the electors to call at party committee rooms to hand in their numbers! Makes sense I suppose if you don’t want to be disturbed watching Coronation Street!
What number takers are not allowed to do is harass voters, and where they position themselves in relation to the polling station is a matter of law. Number takers are not allowed inside “the precincts” of the polling station.
Time was when electors had some understanding about the mechanics of our electoral system, and a level of amusement about the rather demented activities of the political parties on polling day.
Now they seemed to have walked away from all of that, and, despite all the shenanigans of recent years, it isn’t all the fault of the politicians.
The electorate have put involvement in party politics even further down their list of priorities, but you can’t influence what goes on in your community, or in your local political parties, by sitting on your backside at home. It’s your democracy. Use it, or lose it!