Glasgow general election 2024: everything you need to know about the vote

When Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped out into the pouring rain on Wednesday to announce a summer poll, he fired the starting gun on a hectic six weeks for Glasgow’s election office.

Residents across the city will head to their nearest polling place on Thursday, July 4 to cast their vote in a general election which will determine who leads the United Kingdom.

Preparations were already underway to ensure the big day runs smoothly, but staff at Glasgow City Council will now ramp up their efforts — from verifying candidates to erecting polling stations.

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Around 1,500 workers could be required to man approximately 450 polling places while an estimated 350,000 ballot papers will be needed and circa 500 ballot boxes used.

When the Local Democracy Reporting Service sat down with Emma Rodger, elections and democratic services manager, on Tuesday, there was still uncertainty over when the vote would take place. Just 24 hours later, a sodden Sunak finally set a date.

How does Glasgow prepare for a general election?

“We will get notified the same as everybody else,” Emma said. “It’ll be on the news. Then I will stand up the election team.”

She is the only staff member who “has got elections in their job role” but a “core team” will be pulled together, taking three workers from other parts of the council.

The election will then be ‘created’ on an election management system, which includes inputting the number of constituencies. In 2024, there are six across Glasgow: Glasgow East, Glasgow North, Glasgow North East, Glasgow West, Glasgow South and Glasgow South West.

At the last election, the city had seven constituencies. Explaining the boundary changes, Emma said: “We are losing part of Cardonald, and part of Yoker. So part of Cardonald is going to Renfrewshire to be counted, and Yoker is going to West Dunbartonshire.”

Once the election is created, staff will have dates for “what has to be done and when”, such as the last point someone can register to vote. The deadline to register to vote for this election is Tuesday, June 18 while the cut-off point to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday, June 19.

To vote, you must be aged 18 or over on polling day. If you have moved house, changed your name or nationality then you need to register again.

As well as voting in person or via post, proxy votes are available — where someone can vote on your behalf. Those applying for a proxy vote have until 5pm on Wednesday, June 26.

The deadline to apply for a postal proxy vote or to change an existing postal, proxy or postal proxy is also Wednesday, June 19.

A polling scheme is also created, with all polling places and the number of stations within that place. Mostly schools, community centres and church halls are used.

Now the election has been called, a nominations process is underway. Candidates need ten signatories to support their application and must pay a deposit.

Staff will then work with candidates and their agents to check over their paperwork. “You’ll be surprised at the number of people who spell their own names wrong on different papers because it’s a lot of repetitive information,” Emma said.

There are also checks to ensure candidates are eligible to stand. Then, once nominations close, ballot papers can be printed, with more checks carried out on names, party terminology and logos.

Work will get underway on recruiting staff too Emma said: “The team has to start contacting people to say ‘we’ve now got an election on X date, will you work in a polling place? You’ve worked in Hillhead Primary before, are you prepared to do that again?

Historically, these roles were “very heavily dominated by council staff”, but that’s no longer the case with “more and more external” workers. A publicity campaign is expected to attract staff.

Emma added: “The election office tends to operate in that five-week period from circa 8am until 10pm at night, Monday to Thursday. We tend to try to finish for 6pm on a Friday, we also work the weekend, 10 to 5.

“That’s basically because we have to do lots of work in terms of when you phone somebody to say do you want a job… they then have to send in their bank details, their passport… all this information has to get sent out and back in.”

Do I need identification to vote?

Valid photo ID will be required to cast a vote at a polling station. It is the first time this has been needed at a UK general election.

Emma said voter ID is “a massive issue this time round”. People who don’t have ID can contact the electoral registration office to get “a voter authority certificate”, she added.

Voters have until 5pm on Wednesday, June 26 to get their certificate. Alternatively, passports, driving licences and over 60s bus passes can all be used as identification.

A full list can be found here: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/voting-and-elections/voter-id/accepted-forms-photo-id

Emma said documents that are out of date can still be accepted as long as staff can “still see a resemblance”. “We are really trying to get the message out to now start to prepare and make sure you can get yourself ID,” she said.

“So we are not sitting in a position on the day of saying ‘I’m really sorry, we can’t allow you to vote’. People will be refused a vote, if you can’t demonstrate who they are.”

She added there will be “privacy screening” for people “who wear burqas for example”, and to improve accessibility there will be a “helper on hand at each polling place” to assist anyone who needs support.

What do I need to know about postal voting?

With an election announcement expected, the team “decided to get ahead of the game” by preparing “the exterior parts” of postal votes, including envelopes and information on the voting process.

Now, the ballot papers can be printed and added in to allow for “a really quick turnaround”. But there are some changes to the rules on postal voting.

“Historically you were able to walk into a polling station and hand over a postal,” Emma said. “They would put it into a bag that was then uplifted through the day, and you could hand in however many you wanted.”

Now, you would need voter ID — and can only hand over six votes including your own. Any brought in by political parties or campaigns “would be put aside and would not be counted”.

Also, handing in postal votes now involves filling out paperwork. Emma said there is a document “basically asking who you are, your address, demonstrating that we’ve seen your voter ID”.

“If that isn’t done, those votes will be put to the side and will not be counted,” she added. “At the end of the process, they will be opened and a letter will be sent to each person to explain why they didn’t get to vote.

“People go to council buildings and think they can just hand it in, if they do not fill out paperwork it will not be counted. Really it needs to go into Royal Mail.

One of the problems is people choose not to go into Royal Mail because they think it won’t get there in time, but as long as they complete that form within a couple of days of getting it, it will definitely get there in time. They just have to be prepared.”

Can I vote if I now live overseas?

Historically, anyone who had lived overseas for 15 years was unable to vote in Britain, Emma said, but that rule has now been removed.

“Basically overseas voters will be allowed to vote based on where they were previously registered,” she said. “There will be no time limit on that. What they have to be able to do is confirm an address so the electoral registration office can look for them.”

The office is likely to only be able to go back 20 to 25 years, but if a potential voter can show proof of address then they will be able to participate.

“If someone had a letter that was a bank account detail, and it was 30 years ago, that would be accepted,” Emma said.

Finally, what happens on election night?

City Building, part owned by the council, builds every polling place in Glasgow. After polls close, they dismantle each station and bring ballot boxes to the count.

Emma described the process as “like a snake” with vans making their way through “until they are at the front of the queue”. “All the ballot boxes get taken off and brought into the hall and then verification starts”.

Once ballot papers have been verified and sorted, the counting will begin. At the last general election in 2019, 453,684 votes were counted in Glasgow, although the electorate is lower this year due to the boundary changes.

Around 1,000 staff will be needed to facilitate the count and the first ballot boxes usually arrive within 10 minutes of the polls closing. Polling places will be open from 7am to 10pm.

More information on preparing to vote can be found at: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/registertovote

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