Annual Conference 2021


This was our 34th annual conference and, having been to Torquay, Scarborough, Leicester, Llandudno, Plymouth, Blackpool, Portsmouth, Harrogate and Brighton, this year we ventured into cyberspace!

You can read/download the following:

Presentations  (accessible only to members logged in to the website)

2021 is arguably going to see the most complex set of polls ever held across Great Britain. Issues relating to combined polls, requirements for public safety, anticipated staff shortages, the potential demand for absent votes are all making 6 May a difficult project to manage.

2020 saw a reformed canvass that removed some resource burden on EROs and used data to streamline processes for electors. However, delivering the canvass in a pandemic landscape meant that plans were often adjusted and analysis of the effectiveness more difficult to judge.

We hoped that the AEA Annual Conference 2021 would provide delegates with both an opportunity to look back and to look forward. It considered the canvass and tried to help members to plan for changes they may want ahead of the second reformed canvass. It looked in detail at the issues for the 2021 polls and assisted those attending to understand the new requirements placed upon them. It also looked to the future at the UK Government’s plans for change ahead of the next UK Parliamentary general election.

As well as a range of plenary sessions, there were four workshops that provided delegates with an opportunity to explore key areas in more detail.

For the workshops, you can now download the handouts for each one but please be aware that these are accessible to logged in members only.

Workshop One – ERO performance standards  Download the Workshop 1 Handout

The Electoral Commission has launched a revised performance standards framework for EROs. This workshop looked at what the revised standards require; how to ensure compliance; how you can embed the standards within your own teams; the plans, strategies and records you need to have in place; how you can monitor and evaluate progress against your plans and strategies. It sought to dissuade you of any perception that the performance standards are a tick-box exercise, and instead highlighted their importance in providing a framework for all your electoral registration activity.

Workshop Two – Running Combined Polls  Download the Workshop 2 Handout

This workshop looked at the challenges that often arise when polls are combined, including: which polls must/may/cannot be combined; what processes must be combined, and what you have a choice over (poll cards, notices, the issue of postal votes, polling station stationery, number of ballot boxes, etc …); the implications for the nominations process; the impact on the verification and the count (e.g. does verification need to be completed for all polls before counting can begin?); and the apportionment of election costs. It provided good practice and tips to help deliver successful combined polls.

Workshop Three – Adapting Your Communication Style For Your Audience  Download the Workshop 3 Handout

We meet and interact with many specialist groups of electors whilst doing our job; this might include teenagers, someone who is homeless, a gypsy/traveller or someone with a learning disability. This can make communication difficult with key messages that you want to pass on being lost. This workshop helped to look beyond the persons group and instead focussed on and identified the persons personality and communication style so that you can build your response around it.

The workshop should have enabled you:

  • to understand and adapt your personality to suit your audience
  • to identify someone’s communication style and adjust yours accordingly
  • to understand the power of matching and mirroring

Workshop Four – Postal Vote Opening  Download the Workshop 4 Handout

This workshop addressed the complexities around absent voting, including: the receipt and opening of postal votes; cancellation and retrieval of returned postal votes; integrity issues; maintaining the absent vote record and lists; postal vote identifier rejection notices; storage; form K; and the crucial importance of maintaining audit trails. It provided good practice and tips to help deliver absent voting from both an ERO and RO perspective.