Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Archives and elections

As someone who recently stood (and failed!) for election to my local government authority, I have certainly been made much more aware of a lot of activities to do with the electoral process and the rules of the Electoral Commission. One thing that never occurred to me however, was the role of local archives in the carrying out of elections, in particular within their immediate aftermath.

I've just received the latest newsletter from Highland Archive (, and in this there is a fascinating insight into its role on this front.

Most of the documentation from polling stations requires to be kept for a year in accordance with Electoral Commission regulations. This documentation includes the marked register used by the clerk at the polling station when they score off your name when you go to cast your vote, as well as the actual ballot paper you put your cross on in the polling booth. This year, as well as being on duty at the recent local elections, we will also be present at the forthcoming surprise General Election on 8th June to take custody of the documents. The work usually involves being present at the count overnight. We turn up about an hour before the polls close and we are there well after the count ends, because we have to pack all the counted ballot papers when the count staff leave and transport them to the Highland Archive Centre for safe keeping. In the event of a dispute regarding the election, these papers need to be available for scrutiny, so Records Management has an extremely important role to play.

For more on the archive's involvement, and to read the full newsletter, visit


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