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Some implications of postal voting

John Nicholson, RESPECT national Exec.



We in RESPECT need to consider something extra, within our overall national co-ordinating approach to the Euro elections. This is not only about recognising the differences between individual regions (which is an issue in its own right, in terms of emphasis and resourcing between these - especially where more could/should be put because there is more likelihood of success). It is also about the practical administrative issues raised by the compulsory postal vote for the north (4 regions) as opposed to the south.
 


I am only just beginning to realise the possible importance of this point. But,
if I understand it right (and the election offices for the northern regions, if my discussions with the north west office is anything to go by, are still trying to understand it for themselves!), the postal ballots will be sent out some time in late May. It appears to be generally believed that people will either fill in postal ballot papers within the next day or so after delivery, or not fill them in at all (with some exceptions, but not enough to be statistically worth keeping electioneering momentum up, in terms of the simple act of people voting).
 


This reduces the effectiveness of a region-wide leaflet, courtesy of the post
office, more particularly in the northern regions, since the post office will be under pressure to deliver all parties' envelopes, all marked "election communication" on the outside, without any indication of whose party they are, in the few days before the postal ballot papers are delivered. Even if I thought that the post office would do this successfully or comprehensively or on time (and the evidence of the last Westminster general election suggests otherwise) I seriously doubt the effectiveness of one envelope from us
amidst a number from other parties all arriving at the same time just before (or if we are even less lucky, some time after) the postal ballot itself. The time from delivery to waste paper bin will not be substantial.
 


Taking the longer term view, as George raised at the February Exec, which is about concentrating our energies on those areas where elections should be fought in the next Westminster general election, I suggest that it would be more appropriate, in those northern regions that felt this to be effective, for resources to be spent on target (Westminster) constituencies / council wards / towns and cities, rather than for all the funds to be deployed in one possibly abortive leaflet drop across the whole region, regardless of the post office facility that is made available by this.



In other words, I am suggesting a national strategy that recognises the
difference between the postal vote / non-postal vote regions and considers a targeted approach within those regions where it may be more effective. I do not believe that a national strategy has to mean doing the same thing everywhere, nationally, and in terms of funds available, it makes more sense to maximise resources where they would be most effective, both within and
between regions, and not necessarily spending money on the same leaflet through every letter box everywhere.



What do you think? Comments would be appreciated - especially from the northern regions.

 

April 2004

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