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Stating 9pm 2nd May 2002

The Count of the voting papers starts immediately the polling booths close on the day of the election.
This process is carried out in a formal very controlled manner; a description of the 2002 Mayoral Election Count follows:

The Layout of the Counting Hall

"On arriving at the Dome, it was noticeable that there was a police and internal security presence on every door and only those with passes were allowed to enter.
Those allowed in were
- The counting staff which were led by the Returning Officer for Doncaster, Paul Evans who also had overall control helped by the Assistant Returning Officers, and the Electoral Registration Officers.
- The candidates and the representatives of their parties to watch and ensure that all was carried out correctly.
- The media.

All those allowed in were given a non removable, hospital type wrist band correctly coloured to show level of access.

On entering the main hall, it was obvious that the main hall had been laid in a predetermined manner with trestle tables around three sides with a stage from which the declarations were to be made making up the centre of the front".

The ballot slips arrived in sealed numbered boxes and were opened in the controlled area and the papers placed on the trestle tables.

The counting staff were sitting around the inside of the open square and the political party observers were sitting opposite, desperately trying to see the number of votes that were coming out of each box. When each box was emptied, it was held up to show to the political observers that there were no papers left.

The counting staff then, separated the Mayoral Ballot forms from those for the Council( the council ones were put on one side until the next morning count) , Verified them, by unfolding each voting slip and piling them up in front of them. When 50 papers were reached an elastic band was placed around them.

When all the verification had been completed and all the counting staff were sitting with clear tables in front of them, the count proper started.

The bundles were taken back to the counting staff, who removed the elastic bands and sorted the slips into different piles noting the first choice for each candidate.

When a pile reached 50 an elastic band captured them and they were taken to tables in the centre controlled area, where boxes designated for each candidate were awaiting.

20 bundles were counted into a box to give 1000. All this was seen and checked by the candidates and the agents, who watched anxiously as these piles increased along the table, seeing how long their "box line" was compared with the other candidates

At various times towards the end of this process the candidates and their agents were called into the restricted area by the Returning Officers to look through the spoilt and doubtful papers to agree those OK to go forward. Voters must put an X against their candidate with no other marking. Those marked with a "tick" were accepted but any extra wording made them invalid. Postal votes had already been counted and agreed.

The tension was high as a successful candidate had to get more than 50% of the votes cast to win. Failing this the two top candidates went forward to a second count.

A recount was required as two candidates were within 600 for second place.
When all had been completed the Returning Officer announced that the result for the first count, which showed that a second count was required. All candidates apart from the first two were eliminated and their papers were reassessed for the second preference of the voters. Only those showing the remaining candidates preferences were counted.

The first ever declaration for an Elected Doncaster Mayor was then made by the Returning Officer.
The winning candidate then gives an acceptance address thanking their supporters and the officials for their efficiency. It is also traditional to commiserate with the losing candidates who then speak in order of their results to give their thanks and other comments.

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