A limit on the maximum number of people eligible to vote at a polling station has been imposed by the Electoral Commission under the powers given to its Chief Executive, Jenny Watson, to run the AV referendum in May.
Under the law for referendums, Jenny Watson is the Chief Counting Officer and thereby able to issue instructions as to how the vote should be conducted around the country. Because the referendum is being held on the same day as other elections, many of those instructions in effect also apply to the other elections as well.
One of these is the instruction that no polling station should have to serve an electorate greater than 2,500 (excluding postal voters). This is in response to the problems with queues at polling stations at 10pm on the night of the last general election, which were in part due to some polling stations having been allocated a far larger number of electors.
Although the government has not yet decided to proceed to changing the law to allow those queuing at 10pm to still be able to vote, this instruction for May’s ballots means polling day will be conducted in better circumstances than last year’s election.