I would like to rule out a few issues that have come up that are a distraction and agree on some others things that no longer need to be discussed as a means to keep to the point (please do feel free to challenge them though, but dont mix them up with other arguments.
Lets all agree that people do have an option to spoil their ballot paper.
Lets all agree that Poll Staff should be aware of this OPTION
Let us not debate how ethical these people may be and how often they choose to lie
Let us not debate the external influences that pressure people into taking jobs.
Let us focus on Carl’s question: Why do they need to lie.
Before i move onto that I would like to clear up one issue. As a lowly Tech member I do appreciate that i have much to learn, but Chris has raised the issue of what Stress has to do with the Management Regs. My understanding is that the Management Regs require you to be able to demonstrate through your management approach that you are complying with the H&SWA. Chris also posed the question of what “controls with you magically come up with”. Which is kind of my whole point.
Since my last post I have looked through the H&SWA and couldn’t find the specific schedule that references that Stress must be assessed, so I would welcome some clarity on that too.
But if there is a legal requirement to conduct a risk assessment relating to stress, and we are knowingly unable to create any controls that can mitigate the stress, and that the stress has a real potential to a cause significant hazard. Would there not be an obligation to stop the activity or change the process? (Q1)
The question then moves closer to Carl’s “why do they need to lie”, but before going to that would like to address what a significant hazard. It has been mentioned that this event takes place very infrequently, but the question of how frequently it may happen on the day and what magnitude or impact it will have on the individual staff has not.
before we consider whether or not this particular incident forces people to lie, do you think that knowingly placing the number of staff that we are talking about (i dont know the numbers) in a situation where they are occasionally forced to provide ‘deceptive’ advice, although they have no ‘intention’ to deceive as part of their job, is compatible with the stress related legislation we currently have? (Q2) Because if the answer to this is ‘yes’ I need to start another question.
As Jeff points out (much appreciated), and i have used above, a Lie is where there is intention to deceive, and that is different to following an instruction. While that is true, Nazi SS Officers are still being bought to trial for carrying out instructions. While clearly very different in some ways, my aim is to indicate that simply carrying out instructions can be morally wrong.
So unless someone can provide some strong counter evidence i will now explain why staff will be placed in this position where there is a conflict between their intention and the outcome.
The Electoral Commission guidance to staff in Section 5 p.15 says “some voters may still find the instructions unclear… In these circumstance the Presiding Officer the instructions printed at the top of the ballot paper and the details of the candidates in the order that they appear on the ballot paper.” http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/175621/Polling-station-handbook-UKPGE.pdf
This says “Vote for one candidate only only by putting a cross [X] in the box next to your choice”.
The following is an email from the Electoral Service Manager at Lewisham Council. Whole sentences have been removed but no other editing has been done.
If a voter askes “I am looking for advice on how to vote, can I spoil my ballot paper?”
What official response should they get?
Thank you for your further email of the 23 April. I can only repeat what was said in my earlier e-mail of the 17 April
It is not permissible for staff employed in polling stations to advise voters how to mark their ballot papers, save to read the instructions at the top of the ballot paper, as you have remarked. That does not prevent an elector making a choice to spoil their paper howsoever they may wish.
Electoral Services Manager
London Borough of Lewisham
Direct: 020 8314 6907
So, does this situation have any resemblance to the one addressed in Q2?
Does this situation have any resemblance to the one addressed in Q1?