What's needed to run Edinburgh's election: pencils, visors, hand gel - and mints
Covid precautions mean more work has had to go into the planning and preparation of today’s election.
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While the pandemic has restricted much of the usual campaigning activities, with a ban on public meetings and street stalls and canvassing only allowed for part of the period, it has also placed additional burdens on the behind-the-scenes operations run by council officials to get ready for polling day.
An early idea of extending voting over two days to avoid crowding at polling stations was ruled unnecessary, but the process of counting the votes will indeed be spread over two days.
More people than ever before are registered to vote in this election – a total of 401,321 across Edinburgh – and more than a quarter of these (102,138) have opted to vote by post – the largest number of postal votes of any Scottish local authority and the highest ever for the Capital.
For those still voting in person Edinburgh has 140 buildings being used as polling places, housing a total of 352 polling stations. The council is employing over 900 polling staff to assist the public to cast their vote – with one presiding officer and at least one polling assistant in each polling station.
Voters are encouraged to take their own pencils to vote with or they will be issued with a pencil which they can then keep.
Polling stations have been equipped with a total 250,000 pencils, 632 bottles of hand gel, 140 bottles of anti-bacterial spray, 140 blue rolls, 140 boxes of face masks, 140 boxes of gloves and 280 visors.
The Royal Highland Centre’s Highland Hall at Ingliston, where the counting of the votes takes place on Friday and Saturday, is a venue larger than a professional football pitch, which means two-metre physical distancing can be maintained.
There will be fewer party activists attending to watch the count and there will strict anti-Covid measures in place with 250 bottles of hand gel, 36 bottles of anti-bac spray, 36 blue rolls, 27 cleaning stations and 320 clear rubbish bags.
To help the count, staff are also supplied with 660 post-it pads and 1,068 rubber thimbles – not to mention 3,744 Glacier mints/fruits per day (served in individual cups for each staff member),