Jim Thornton and his team, Polling Day June 4th 2009, the lowdown

Polling day 2009 was an unusually quiet affair.  Maybe recent national events have been more detrimental to the public mood than anticipated.  Jim Thornton and the three East Herts People researchers (who willingly took a day off to experience the highs and lows of an election campaign) worked tirelessly from 7am until 10pm.  Their activity included telling (standing outside the polling station with a rosette on to make a note of polling numbers), driving around town in a poster emblazoned car with a loud hailer trying to encourage people to vote, standing outside Hertford North and East Train Stations during evening rush hour in a bid to entice tired commuters to use their vote and attempting to rally last minute supporters right up until the close of polls at 10pm whereby we witnessed the sealing of the ballot box. 

Following our tiring campaign, we headed over to Wodson Park for the Verification of the votes.  This is where they empty out the ballot boxes, separate the county and European slips and lock the votes away until the count the following day.  What is useful from observing this exercise, particularly in our case, is that you get to see whether anyone has voted for you as you are able to briefly spot where the coveted x has been placed.  Once we had seen a few examples we called it a night and headed home. 

In relation to polling day it must be said that it was somewhat disheartening to be the only people out campaigning and telling.  There was a lack of presence by any of the other candidates although we did bump into Peter Ruffles on a few occasions, making his way around the division.  

The count on Friday was the main event, the moment when we would discover exactly how perceptive to the idea of Independents, the voters of Hertford actually are.  All of the votes for the divisions of East Herts were to be counted at Wodson Park, with the European elections votes being kept until Sunday.  We huddled around the table where Hertford St Andrew's votes were being counted and watched as Peter Ruffles' tray was filled up.  We seemed to be doing well enough although occasionally it seemed we may be neck and neck with the Lib Dem's.  This was slightly disappointing given their distinct lack of effort, they had not even put out a leaflet.  The atmosphere in the hall was one of nervous anticipation.  We found it endearing that someone as popular as Peter Ruffles, still waited with bated breath to learn his fate. 

Once the piles had been divided up in to candidates and bundled in to piles of 25, the doubtful/spoilt papers were adjudicated and Jim acquired one further vote.  Eventually we were informed of the provisional results and we realised Peter Ruffles had been re-elected.  It was hard not to feel disappointed given all the effort we had made but we always knew Peter Ruffles would be an impossible man to beat. 

On reflection we are so happy that we came second, that 831 people didn't think Jim was crazy and that Independents in Hertford could be a real possibility. 

June 4th was exciting, invigorating and exhausting.  Jim Thornton taught us, the researchers, a great deal about how election campaigns should be fought and run and for we certainly gave our all.

We are hopeful that we can take this success and build upon it and continue to fly the flag for Independents in East Herts.  Thank you to everyone who supported Jim, this is just the beginning! 

See below for pictures from the day and see the results in full here.

 

independents sign

 Livia campaigning 

Campaign car 

James Placard 

campaigning train station 

polling station 

the count

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