Southend: polling districts review

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is conducting a review of polling districts and polling places. This review can be accessed here.

Here is the current make-up of wards in the borough –

ward electors postal voters polling districts population 2011
Belfairs 7573 1078 5 9219
Blenheim Park 8015 952 5 10475
Chalkwell 7432 1002 4 10045
Eastwood Park 7661 1170 4 9364
Kursaal 7934 812 5 11130
Leigh 7558 992 5 10083
Milton 7780 886 6 11063
Prittlewell 7930 1211 5 9971
Shoeburyness 8693 1044 4 11159
Southchurch 7808 1193 4 9710
St Laurence 7671 942 5 9726
St Luke’s 8248 1047 4 11213
Thorpe 7523 1238 5 9215
Victoria 7604 795 4 11004
West Leigh 7170 1038 6 9154
West Shoebury 7679 930 4 10280
Westborough 7691 788 5 10847

My impression is of an increasing number of postal voters, which suggest that we may be able to merge some polling stations. The latest electoral change, a move to individual electoral registration (IER), is largely provoked as a response to electoral fraud – especially amongst postal votes. Therefore, it should be noted that the wards with the fewest numbers of postal voters are all Labour-held ones.

The five smallest registration districts –

380 Leigh WLZ
628 Belfairs WW
792 West Leigh WAZ
801 Milton ELZ
1013 Milton ET

The five largest –

2787 Belfairs WDZ
2664 St Luke’s EEZ
2614 Southchurch EKZ
2506 Shoeburyness EA
2489 Shoeburyness EC

If one uses the 2011 census figure and calculates the elector count as a percentage we get this -:

Victoria 69.10%
Milton 70.32%
Westborough 70.90%
Kursaal 71.28%
St Luke’s 73.56%
Chalkwell 73.99%
West Shoebury 74.70%
Leigh 74.96%
Blenheim Park 76.52%
Shoeburyness 77.90%
West Leigh 78.33%
St Laurence 78.87%
Prittlewell 79.53%
Southchurch 80.41%
Thorpe 81.64%
Eastwood Park 81.81%
Belfairs 82.15%

Whilst this can only be a rough indicator, and we must make allowances for areas which have more families (and therefore greater numbers of children), it still shows where under-registration is most likely to be found. I know from first-hand experience that there are some areas in Milton, for instance, where under-registration is high.

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5 Responses to Southend: polling districts review

  1. “The latest electoral change, a move to individual electoral registration (IER), is largely provoked as a response to electoral fraud – especially amongst postal votes.”

    I remain far from convinced on this. I have seen no evidence of widespread voting fraud. Indeed, the biggest suspect areas are problematic boroughs like Tower Hamlets, where postal ballots are not the issue.

    When I look at IER, I’m afraid what I see is the sort of gerrymandering that occurs in the US.

  2. I do no like IER either – although it does appear that the ERS is largely in favour of it (with some reservations). This is worth a read – http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/missingmillions/

  3. But if we were “starting from scratch”, would we set up an Electoral Registration System whereby each eligible voter registered or one where we relied on a “head of household” (a what?) to complete the form on behalf of all in his (usually his) household?

    Surely we should be concentrating on ensuring that Individual Registration worked (the transition being the most problematic period and open to manipulation and exploitation).

    There is also the difficult balance between the state maintaining an extensive database of “data subjects” (not, note “data citizens”) and rights of privacy and anonymity – but that applies to almost any registration system. Even “finger dipping” requires a checklist of those eligible or compulsory ID.

  4. It depends on whether you can separate theory from practise. In theory IER stands up – I fear that in practise we will witness even greater numbers not registering to vote. This is no gain for our democracy.

  5. My impression is of an increasing number of postal voters, which suggest that we may be able to merge some polling stations.

    disclaimer: Outsider, writing non-specifically

    Merging polling stations is surely just a matter of accessibility and capacity, but if it moves to merging of polling districts there are other factors that may need to be considered.

    I suspect that some data is captured and aggregated at polling district level. So if you merged a polling district with high indices of multiple deprivation with a less deprived one, the resultant district’s average may no longer be exceptional. As a result the pressure to “do something” will be reduced.

    (At a much higher level I have noticed that since Northumberland “went unitary” we have lost sight of a lot of data previously published at “district” level; Northumberland as a result appears a lot more “comfortable” than some of the districts previously appeared. It appears as if a lot of “deprivation” has been successfully eliminated – when in fact it has just been averaged out. Individuals are still suffering and in want.)

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