Postal vote opener job description
The purpose of the postal vote opening process is to ensure that returned postal votes are opened, checked and counted in a secure manner. Teams of postal vote openers are employed to work during the two weeks leading up to election day, on dates and times as designated by the returning officer.
As these sessions will be carried out before the close of poll, ballots papers will be opened face down and so votes for candidates will not be visible and are NOT counted as part of this process.
Postal vote opener duties
The role of a postal vote opener is not difficult, but the greatest of care has to be taken to ensure that the process is carried out securely and accurately, so that mistakes are not made.
- Have read the statement of secrecy
- Act impartially at all times and respect confidentiality of material handled, not repeating anything they may have seen in the session, outside of the session.
- Refrain from engaging in conversations with candidates or agents who may be observing the process.
As directed by a postal vote team supervisor, postal vote openers will work in teams. They will:
- Count envelopes received
- Open and check contents of envelopes
- Count number of ballot papers received
- Any other duties as requested by the Postal Vote Team Supervisors
- Work as part of a team
In order to ensure the safety of our staff and any observers present at the sessions, we have made the following changes to the postal vote opening process.
- We have reduced the number of staff present for each session and will have a one-way route around the rooms.
- The law currently states that those who are eligible (candidates and agents) are permitted to observe the postal vote opening process. To ensure this is done safely, as well as allocating an area for observers, we will also be ordering Perspex screens to provide staff with additional protection.
- We will be enforcing social distancing by ensuring floor markings are in place for observers to stand.
- We will be providing masks/visors for staff for each session and strongly encourage that masks/visors are worn at all times by everyone present. Staff will be able to go outside for mask breaks if required. If you are unable to wear a mask or visor then we would encourage you not to apply to work this election, however we would welcome an application from you for future elections.
- We will provide sanitation stations for staff and observers to use, and will encourage regular hand washing breaks.
- Staff will be allocated a specific seat, and we will be sanitising the opening areas before and after each session, keeping a clear record of this.
- Each staff member will be provided with a labelled bag of equipment to last them for all their sessions, which ensures that equipment is not shared with anyone else.
A basic understanding of the election process
Previous election experience
Understanding of postal vote procedures
Skills and personal attributes
Accuracy and attention to detail
Ability to follow instruction
Punctual and reliable
A team player and flexible
Must not have worked in support of a political party/candidate at the election
Be willing to attend a training session
Must not have been convicted of an offence under electoral legislation
Acceptance of waiving of Working Time Directive for period of employment
We ask that you please only commit to sessions you will definitely be available for, if you cannot commit to a session at this time, then please don’t pick that day.
We will be allocating staff to sessions based on the level of interest we have received for each session.
Although we have specified finishing times for each session, these very much depend on the level of postal votes we have received in each day. Therefore, sessions may be cancelled at short notice or finish early. In accepting a role as a postal vote opener you are acknowledging that you will be paid for the hours that you have worked, and not the full scheduled time. Likewise sessions can also overrun, so if you are able to stay on you will be paid per part hour you work.
All staff employed by the returning officer must be absolutely impartial and MUST NOT canvass for, assist or openly support a candidate or political party at election time.
If you are an employee of Arun District Council you must ensure you have your line manager’s permission to carry out election duties during your working hours.