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Teller (elections)


Teller (elections)

A teller is a person who counts the votes in an election, vote or poll. Tellers are also known as scrutineers, poll-watchers, challengers or checkers.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, tellers are people working on behalf of political parties (usually as volunteers) who stand or sit outside the polling station and collect the electoral registration numbers (poll numbers) of voters as they enter or leave. They play no official part in the election and voters are under no obligation to speak with them. They are not polling agents.

Tellers help their parties to identify supporters who have not yet voted, so that they can be contacted and encouraged to vote, and offered assistance — such as transport to the polling station — if necessary. In as far as this increases turn-out, it can be said to be "good" for the democratic process, since a higher voter turnout is generally regarded to be a desirable thing.

Police officers may intervene if tellers "irritate voters, exert undue influence or obstruct the polling station." [1][2][3][4][5]

Sometimes, some or all of the main parties might reach an agreement to take shifts, and pass on their lists to the other parties; however it is commonplace to see several tellers outside a polling station.

After the May 2005 Northern Ireland elections, the Electoral Commission concluded that some candidates' polling agents unlawfully assisted with identifying supporters who had not yet voted, by passing information from inside the polling place to other party workers. This information is not normally available to parties unless voters give it voluntarily to tellers.[6]

See also


External links

  • Electoral Commission UK Guidelines
  • New Zealand Guidelines
  • Canadian guidelines
  • Becoming a councillor FAQ: What is the role of the tellers? – Walsall Council, UK
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