An ill-advised photo
January 27, 2014 7 Comments
I have been to a few counts, quite a few. Photos are taken, usually by the press, although some party workers take the occasional snap. Always, always always, these are of candidates either giving declaration speeches or being surrounded by joyous supporters celebrating success. Never are photos taken of the council staff who conduct the count, or of the count itself, which is why I was so surprised to see that Cllr Paul Collins (Westborough, Liberal Democrat) chose to put a picture of the West Leigh count taking place on his blog. I accept that the ballot papers themselves are indistinct, but you can see them. You also see council staff conducting the count.
Admission to the count is strictly controlled – tickets are issued to the candidates’ partners and count scrutinizers only, although councillors do gain admittance. Never is it open to the general public. We have a secret ballot, and its integrity is sacrosanct. Taking photographs of ballot papers being counted does undermine this.
I do not recall seeing Cllr Collins at the count, and I presume the photo was either grabbed from a news site, or taken by one of his acquaintances. Whatever its source it is a lapse of judgement to reproduce it. It also disregards the rules, rules that are there to protect local democracy.
(I have included a screen grab here, but I have lowered the resolution so as to make it as fuzzy as possible without losing the capacity see what it actually is. I did think of including a link to the photo on Cllr Collins’ blog, but then decided that this would only compound this error.)