Hard-working staff worked through the night to count votes for the local County Council elections on Thursday 6 May. The count staff met again on a rainy Saturday 8 May to restart the counting to elect a new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.
There were also vacancies to be filled for a Chelmsford City Councillor and parish councillors in some areas of the city which were also counted on Thursday and Saturday.
In Chelmsford, vote counting for the four elections was structured over two days, due to the amount of ballot papers to be counted. In a change to elections held in previous years, Covid-secure measures were required to be taken to keep the staff safe, including reducing the number of counters to allow for social distancing, which added to the need for two days of counting.
When the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday, the ballot papers made their way to Chelmsford Sport and Athletic Centre (CSAC), ready for the teams to begin the verifying and counting process. It was a long night, and by 6am, the elected Essex County councillors for all nine seats had been declared!
After a day of rest, many of the same staff returned to CSAC on Saturday for round two of counting. This time, to count Chelmsford’s votes for Essex’s new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC). The staff worked diligently and quickly, and the results were announced by 1pm. It was a resounding win for Roger Hirst who isn’t new to the PFCC role, as he has held the post since 2016. He has now been re-elected for another five years and will be responsible for making sure local police, fire and rescue services meet the needs of the community.
Nick Eveleigh, Chief Executive for Chelmsford City Council was the Returning Officer for the local elections, which meant he had the job of announcing the winner of each vote:
“Holding elections during a pandemic was also going to be a slightly different experience to usual, but every person involved rose to the challenge. It was a long night and day but I’m very proud and grateful so many people gave up their time to make it happen. There was great teamwork and camaraderie being demonstrated to deliver a slick operation and I offer huge thanks to everyone involved.”