I’ve been making money from elections for many years, both as a poll clerk and as a counting assistant. It’s pretty good money, normally around £14 – £17 per hour.
At UK elections, the polling station is open from 7 am to 10 pm, so you’re looking at a 15-hour day, plus the time it takes to set everything up, in the morning and then clear everything away, in the evening. Normally, you will be working within in team of about 3 people and managed by the presiding officer. Sometimes there will be more than one polling station at your location. A separate team deals with each station. Just remember to take a packed lunch with you as you can’t normally leave the site, during working hours.
Your reward will be receiving something, around £200. Not bad, for mainly sitting at a table, ticking boxes and handing out ballot papers. Sometimes you can also take part in the ‘count’ if it is not taking place that evening.
Count assistants usually work through the night, counting up all the votes. You normally start at 10 pm and finish sometime in the early hours of the morning. If there is more than one election or if the size of the turnout is big, then it will take longer to count everything. Sometimes if there is a large number of votes to count then another day may be put aside to complete it. In my experience, count assistants are paid slightly more than poll clerks, around £17 per hour. The work is pretty simple too.
When you arrive, you will be put in a group of about 4 people and managed by a count supervisor. Firstly, you will have to check that the number of ballot papers in each ballot box are all correctly accounted for. Then you count the votes for each individual candidate, to find the winner.
It’s generally a good atmosphere at the count. You will probably see all the candidates and their representatives. If it’s local government elections in several wards, there will be numerous counts and candidates. Each time the returning officer announces a result, the winning candidate will be invited to make a speech. It can be quite entertaining!
To qualify for either position, you need to be over 18, be able to read and write, be on the electoral register and not be a member of, or promote any political party.
If accepted, you may be invited to a training day prior to the election. Although, this is often only senior staff positions, such as presiding officers, are invited. It really isn’t necessary for poll clerks and count assistants. You will be given instructions on the day and should soon pick it up quickly.
To apply you just need to contact your local council. They will have an Electoral Registration and Elections Office, from where you can obtain details of their application process.