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Local Council Election

Mid and East Antrim

Thursday 22 May 2014

Media Information Pack


Contents Section

Title

Page

1

Count Centre Information

3

2

Accreditation Process

6

3

Media Access

7

4

The Count Process

8

5

Count Centre layout

11

6

Health and Safety

12

7

Evacuation Procedures

12

8

Requirements of Secrecy

13

Annex A

Application for Accreditation

15

Please note: All information in this document is correct at time of publication but may be subject to change.

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1

Count centre facilities

Count centre address

The Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Trostan Avenue, Ballymena, BT43 7BL

District Electoral Areas

Mid and East Antrim

Deputy Returning Officer

Mrs Anne Donaghy

Admission to the count centre

Admission is permitted from 7.45am (Friday) and 8.15am (Saturday) with the production of an acceptable form of identification (outlined below). On admission you will be given a wrist band please ensure this is worn at all times. You may leave the Centre at any time but if you do so you should ensure you have your wristband and photographic identification ready for re-admission.

Estimated start and finish times

Verification of the unused ballot papers will

of the verification

commence as soon as the ballot boxes are delivered to the count centre at approximately 10.15pm on Thursday. The estimated finish time is 3am. Verification of the used ballot papers (opening of ballot boxes) will commence at 8am on Friday 23 May. The estimated finish time is 3pm.

Estimated start and finish times

The counts for the following DEAs will begin after

of the count

the verification is complete on Friday 23 May: 

Bannside

Carrick Castle

Coast Road

Knockagh

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The estimated finish time is 11pm.

The counts for the remaining DEAs will begin at 9am on Saturday 24 May: 

Braid

Ballymena

Larne Lough

The Count must be finished by 11.59pm. Key contacts

Deputy Returning Officer – Anne Donaghy Assistant DRO – Mick McGuckin Assistant DRO – Lorraine Hunter Assistant DRO – Ian Eagleson Media Liaison Officer – Lynda Hewitt

Parking facilities

Friday: Parking will be available in the Seven Towers Leisure Centre main car park, adjacent to the centre.

Saturday: Car parking will not be available in the centre’s main car park. However parking will be available in the two car parks to the Sainsburys side of the building, the Lamont Café and the Northern Regional College (NRC). Both Lamont Café and NRC car parks are located on Trostan Avenue.

Please note: The Ballymena Market will be operational in the Leisure Centre’s car park on the Saturday. Those attending the election count in any capacity should

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give themselves time to locate appropriate parking. Refreshments

The canteen in the Seven Towers Leisure Centre will be open during the count period.

Information areas

Information Areas will be available at the entrance to the Leisure Centre, outside the Count Hall and inside the Count Hall. Plasma screens displaying results will be situated in the press gallery, in the canteen and on the Count Centre floor.

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2

Accreditation Process

Media access to the count centre will be strictly controlled at all times and prior accreditation is required. Accreditation is open to all news broadcast and news print media.

Following accreditation individual wrist bands, which must be worn at all times while attending the count centre, will be available at the count centre. They will only be issued to individuals on production of: •

a current NUJ Card; or

a current photographic organisation pass; or

an original letter of authority from a print/broadcast organisation supported with a

second form of photographic identification – such as a passport or Electoral Identity Card.

To apply for accreditation, complete the application form at Annex A. All applications must be submitted before 5pm on Monday 19th May and emailed to lynda.hewit@ballymena.gov.uk

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3. Media Access Media access to the count centre is strictly controlled and members of the media will be required to wear media wrist bands and photographic identification, for example organisation ID/NUJ pass, at all times. All attendees at the count are required to have read the Requirement of Secrecy shown on page 13.

The Media Liaison Officer, Lynda Hewitt, will be present throughout the count and will be the first point of contact for media related enquiries.

Members of the media must abide by any direction given by the Deputy Returning Officer or any person acting on her behalf. The Media Liaison Officer will facilitate access to the counting hall for a limited period when the first boxes arrive to allow filming of the box opening process. Cameras or recording equipment (including phone cameras) will not be permitted to film close-ups of ballot papers or interfere with the count process as this breaches the secrecy of the ballot.

Interviews with candidates are not permitted within the count hall. However, every assistance will be provided by the Media Liaison Officer to liaise with the candidates to inform them of interview requests.

Everyone should observe safety briefs and comply with reasonable requests from the Media Liaison Officer and/or centre managers. A safety/fire brief will take place prior to the beginning of the count and members of the media are required to attend.

The decision of the Deputy Returning Officer is final, and they are not required to allow any member of the media into the count (unless they are also a candidate, candidate’s agent, counting agent or accredited observer).

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4 Count Process 4.1

Verification

There are two parts to the verification process:

1. Verification of unused ballot papers

The verification of unused ballot papers will begin after the close of the poll on Thursday 22 May 2014. This process will be completed overnight.

2. Verification of used ballot papers (opening of ballot boxes)

The verification of used ballot papers will begin at 8am on Friday 23 May 2014. The European and local council ballot papers will be verified simultaneously.

The verification is a comparison of the number of ballot papers found in a ballot box compared with the number recorded as issued by the polling staff (on the ballot paper account). If the number of ballot papers recorded on the ballot paper account and the physical checks correspond, the verification of that box is complete. If they do not, the ballot papers will be recounted and the documentation checked until the Deputy Returning Officer is satisfied as to the number of ballot papers to be included in the count. This process will continue until all the ballot boxes have been verified.

On completion of the verification stage for each District Electoral Area the Deputy Returning Officer will announce the following: 

The eligible electorate



The total votes polled



The percentage turnout

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The verified local council ballot boxes will be resealed until they can be counted after the verification of all ballot boxes allocated to that count area are complete. The European ballot boxes will be resealed and transported to the Kings Hall Pavilion for counting on Monday 26 May.

4.2

Count

The count of Local Council ballot papers will begin after the verification stage has been completed. The order in which each DEA will be counted will be advised by the DRO.

Ballot papers will be sorted into piles for each candidate according to the first preference marked. Any 'doubtful ballot papers’ will be put aside for adjudication.

The number of votes for each candidate will be counted and the total number of valid ballot papers calculated.

The quota will then be calculated using the following formula:

total valid votes Q=

+1 total number of seats in the DEA + 1

Where the total number of votes for a candidate at any stage of the count is equal to or exceeds the quota that candidate shall be deemed to be elected.

The next stages of the count will involve either the transfer of the surplus vote from a candidate deemed to be elected or the exclusion of one or more candidates with the least votes.

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If at any stage the number of continuing candidates equals the number of seats to be filled, then such candidates are deemed elected.

Doubtful votes will be adjudicated at intervals during the count. An announcement will be made when the adjudication takes place. As soon as possible after the count has been completed, the Deputy Returning Officer will declare the result.

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5

Count centre layout Seven Towers Leisure Centre Row of interlocking Chairs Free area for candidates

Free area for candidates

Free area for candidates

Free area for candidates Row of interlocking Chairs

Emergency Exits x 3

Lock off points

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BALCONY DESIGNATED PRESS AREA

Free area for candidates

Free area for candidates

STAGE

Free area for candidates


6

Health & Safety 

Seven Towers Leisure Centre has full disabled access.

There is a No Smoking and No Alcohol policy in place.

There are qualified designated First Aiders on duty throughout the Election Count.

Council staff are available to assist and ensure that the Centre is evacuated safely in the event of an emergency.

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Evacuation procedure Seven Towers Leisure Centre 

There are no planned tests of the fire alarm during the duration of the Count.

In the event of the fire alarm sounding you are to leave the Leisure Centre immediately by the nearest Fire Exit and assemble in the Main Car Park at the Designated Fire Assembly Point. (Adjacent to the front entrance to the centre).

You are to remain in the assembly area unless you are directed to somewhere else by Council staff.

You are not to re-enter the building until told to do so.

If the evacuation is likely to continue for some time, alternative arrangements will be made for an Emergency Rest Centre to be opened, which will be detailed at the time as required.

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8

REQUIREMENT OF SECRECY

LOCAL ELECTION COUNCIL 22 May 2014

NOTIFICATION

OF

REQUIREMENT

OF

SECRECY

FOR

PERSONS

ATTENDING AT THE COUNTING OF THE VOTES

Your attention is drawn to the relevant provisions of paragraph 27(2) of Schedule 9 and Section 111 (2A) (d) of the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1962 which apply to this election. Level 5 is currently set at ÂŁ5,000. It is the policy of the Chief Electoral Officer to report to the police any person suspected of breaking these provisions.

Paragraph 27 (2) - Any person attending in any capacity at the count at any election shall be guilty of an electoral offence if he – (a)

ascertains or attempts to ascertain at the count the number or other unique identifying mark on the back of any ballot paper; or

(b)

at any time communicates any information obtained at the count as to the candidate for whom any vote is given on any particular ballot paper.

Section 111 (2A) (d) - A person guilty of an electoral offence at a local election shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

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European Election 22 May 2014

NOTIFICATION

OF

REQUIREMENT

OF

SECRECY

FOR

PERSONS

ATTENDING AT THE COUNTING OF THE VOTES

Your attention is drawn to Regulation 30 of the European Parliamentary Elections (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2004, and in particular to the maximum penalty set out in sub-paragraph (7) for anyone found guilty of this offence. Level 5 is currently set at ÂŁ5000. It is the policy of the Chief Electoral Officer to report to the police any person suspected of breaking any of these provisions.

Count

(2) Every person attending at the verification of the ballot paper accounts or the counting of the votes shall maintain and aid in maintaining the secrecy of voting and shall not –

a) ascertain or attempt to ascertain at the counting of the votes the number or other unique identifying mark on the back of any ballot paper; b) communicate any information obtained at the verification of the ballot paper accounts or the counting of the votes as to the way in which any vote is given on any particular ballot paper.

(3) No person attending at the verification of the ballot paper accounts shall express to any person an opinion based on information obtained at that verification as to the likely result of the election.

(7) If a person acts in contravention of this regulation he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

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Annex A

APPLICATION FOR ACCREDITATION Mid and East Antrim Elections, May 22nd 2014

I wish to apply for media accreditation for the Mid and East Antrim count centre (@Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena).

Name:

________________________________________

Organisation:

________________________________________

Email address:

________________________________________

Contact Number: ________________________________________

Media wrist bands will be available for collection at the count centre upon registration. I understand that I will be required to produce media credentials before a media wrist band is issued to me: 

a current NUJ Card; or

a current Photographic Organisation Pass; or

an original letter of authority from print/broadcast organisation supported with a second form of photographic identification – such as a passport or Electoral Identity Card.

All completed applications should be emailed to lynda.hewitt@ballymena.gov.uk by 5pm on May 19th 2014.

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