Official count and declaration of poll

178 Counting the votes

(1)

On or before the completion of the scrutiny under section 175, the Returning Officer, with any assistants the Returning Officer considers necessary, and in the presence of any of the scrutineers appointed under section 175 that are present (not exceeding, unless the Returning Officer otherwise permits, 1 scrutineer for each candidate) and also in the presence of a Justice (who is to attend at the request of the Returning Officer), but of no other person, must select and open one of the parcels of used ballot papers referred to in section 174A(1)(a)(i).

(2)

The procedure set out in subsection (1) need not be delayed until the inquiries under section 176(2), or the inquiries as to the qualifications of persons casting a special vote at the election, have been completed, and the ballot papers from any particular polling place may be counted while any inquiries in respect of ballot papers from that place or in respect of the qualifications of persons casting a special vote at the election are being completed, but the count shall not be completed until those inquiries have been completed.

(3)

No special vote shall be disallowed by reason only of some error or omission on the part of an official, if the Returning Officer is satisfied that the voter was qualified to vote at the election.

(4)

Where a person who has voted in an election dies before the close of the day before polling day, the Returning Officer shall, on receiving from a Registrar of Births and Deaths notification of that person’s death, disallow that person’s vote.

(5)

When the parcel selected under subsection (1) has been opened, the Returning Officer shall, in the presence of his or her assistants (if any) and the scrutineers and Justice as aforesaid, but of no other person, deal with the ballot papers as follows:

(a)

he or she shall reject as informal—

(i)

any ballot paper that does not bear the official mark if there is reasonable cause to believe that it was not issued to a voter by an issuing officer; and

(ii)

a ballot paper that does not clearly indicate the constituency candidate or the party, as the case may require, for which the voter desired to vote:

provided that no ballot paper or part of the ballot paper shall be rejected as informal by reason only of some informality in the manner in which it or any other part of the ballot paper has been dealt with by the voter if the ballot paper or part of the ballot paper being considered is otherwise regular, and if, in the opinion of the Returning Officer, the intention of the voter is clearly indicated:

provided also that no ballot paper or part of a ballot paper shall be rejected as informal by reason only of some error or omission on the part of an official, if the Returning Officer is satisfied that the voter was qualified to vote at the election:

(b)

the Returning Officer shall then—

(i)

count, as the case may require, the number of votes received by each party or the number of votes received by each constituency candidate or both; and

(ii)

count the number of party votes rejected as informal; and

(iii)

count the number of electorate votes rejected as informal; and

(iv)

compare the results of the counts conducted under subparagraphs (i) to (iii) with the certificate of the polling place manager in respect of the preliminary count; and

(c)

the Returning Officer shall then, where necessary, amend the certificate of the polling place manager in respect of the preliminary count; and every such certificate shall be initialled by the Returning Officer and the Justice attending:

(d)

the Returning Officer must then endorse on the parcel the name or other identifier of the polling place where the votes were recorded; and that endorsement must be signed by the Returning Officer and the Justice who attends.

(5A)

Despite section 60, if a voter who was qualified to vote as an elector of a particular district votes as if he or she were an elector of another district, the voter’s party vote—

(a)

may not be disallowed simply because of the voter’s error with regard to the district; and

(b)

for the purposes of this section and sections 179 to 181, is to be regarded as having been cast by an elector of the other district.

(6)

The ballot papers from all the parcels shall be dealt with in the manner aforesaid and the ballot papers from one parcel may be so dealt with while those from another parcel or parcels are also being so dealt with.

(7)

The ballot papers of special voters shall be dealt with in like manner, after which they shall be made up together into a parcel which shall be properly secured and shall be endorsed in the manner hereinbefore described.

(8)

When all the ballot papers have been dealt with in the prescribed manner, the Justice attending shall sign a certificate stating the total number of ballot papers used at the election, the number of votes received by each party or constituency candidate, as the case may require, and the number of informal votes, and that certificate shall be preserved by the Returning Officer for production when required.

(9)

Where at any count of the ballot papers under this section counting of the ballot papers extends beyond 1 day, the Justice attending shall give his or her certificate day by day showing the progress of that counting and describing the parcels counted in his or her presence.

Section 178: substituted, on 6 December 1995, by section 56 of the Electoral Amendment Act (No 2) 1995 (1995 No 61).

Section 178(1): substituted, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(1) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 178(2): amended, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(2) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 178(5)(a)(i): substituted, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(3) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 178(5)(b)(iv): amended, on 21 March 2017, by section 87 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2017 (2017 No 9).

Section 178(5)(c): amended, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(4) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 178(5)(d): substituted, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(5) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).

Section 178(5A): inserted, on 28 February 2002, by section 70(6) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2002 (2002 No 1).