What to expect at the count (AH AH AH AH AH!)

Ian Paisley Junior and others hunkered down on the ground tallying votes being validated face down at the 2009 European Election

What should you expect to see at the count on Thursday night if you’re turning up as a party worker, a journalist, an election observer or a member of the public lucky enough to find a count centre allowing you in? What follows is my understanding of what will happen. (EONI’s Guide for Candidates is a good source of information.) The first ballot boxes will arrive at the count centres from nearby polling stations shortly after ten o’clock. As soon … Read more

Posters, walkthroughs, boundary changes, Facebook – reflections in Lagan Valley

In the last of these three posts looking at the campaign in Lagan Valley, I’ll broaden it out from just canvassing to look at a few other things I’ve picked up along the way. Posters seem to be a necessary evil. The unanimous verdict across the five parties I talked to in Lagan Valley is that as long as one party puts them up, the others will be forced to follow. While a local agreement was put in place to … Read more

Fears over the end of the overnight count allayed

At the end of last summer, the media was buzzing with fears that right at the moment that Northern Ireland was re-embracing overnight counts, many English local authorities were threatening to pull out of nocturnal calculations at the General Election. As you’d expect, a Facebook group was formed, and electoral officers (described by Tory MP Peter Bone as “tin-pot, upstart little town clerks”) across the UK were surveyed to find out their plans. By January 2010, BBC Newsnight’s Michael Crick … Read more

So what happens on the doorstep?

UCUNF's Daphne Trimble and canvassing team consulting the street map before setting off around the doors

All the candidates (and canvassers) have a fixed patter that they repeat ad nausea on every doorstep. Rosettes and ties are out with the UCUNF team in Lagan Valley, but in with DUP and TUV. A sitting MP has an advantage – and knows it. No one tells unionists canvassers that they vote nationalist or Alliance. All that and many more reflections from watching the parties canvass in Lagan Valley.

Canvassing for beginners

Bring pens, maps, water and a coat. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to eat. Keep track of the bookies’ odds. Develop a sixth sense for whether a house is empty or occupied. It’s all good advice for candidates canvassing around the doors of their prospective constituency. During last year’s Euro election I blogged about the process of checking postal ballots, polling day, the main verification of votes, and the eventual counting of the ballot papers. This year I’ve gone a … Read more

Are hustings a thing of the past?

logo for CARE's Make The Cross Count initiative

Am I the only person who has been disappointed by the lack of hustings in local constituencies? Reading election literature doesn’t give you a complete picture about candidates, and how they engage with difficult issues – and difficult people – could be crucial to how you’d vote. (OK, other factors like how you’ve always voted, and how your parents voted might also be crucial in NI too.) Under the banner of their Make The Cross Count initiative, the organisation CARE … Read more

Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now

Here’s something with a bit of politics for the film buffs reading Slugger. As part of Belfast Film Festival and in conjunction with Index on Censorship there’s a free session on Thursday 29th at 2pm in the QFT looking at Making Political Films About the North: Then and Now. The troubles in the North of Ireland have long been the subject of film-makers. This film-making landscape has changed over the years, as has the political landscape. Self Censorship and direct … Read more

You can take tablets to get rid of worms

Spoof worm trail graph showing the author's dissatisfaction with broadcaster’s worm trail analysis, laid over screen grab over Sky News

The phrase “every word scrutinised” and the sight of worm trails stretching out across the TV screen make me shiver. The West Wing boxset, a politics educational series that should have been co-produced by the Open University, long ago taught us the techniques of US pollsters. But just because political parties can afford to wire subjects up to boxes and force them to record their second by second reactions to the witterings of three party leaders doesn’t mean to say … Read more