With the EU Election fast approaching, I have had a few e-mails this week about the location of Polling Stations. Ironically the Council was about to commission a full review of Polling Stations (including a public consultation), but that has now been delayed due to the unexpected (but welcome) EU Election! Below is a briefing from the Council on the issue.
You should check your Polling Card, but as far as I know the polling stations in my Ward are as listed here.
Polling Places are determined by decision of Council. The Council has a responsibility to split each ward into Polling Districts and then allocate a Polling Place per District. Those selected are the most accessible and well located buildings in the area. The focus is on the voter trying to ensure that as many voters as possible turn out to vote by providing them with a well sited building that is easy to access and sufficiently large for the voters who are allocated there.
By law the Council has to review its allocation of polling places periodically. The last full review of the Polling Arrangements in Edinburgh was in 2013. The next review is scheduled for later this year. It was due to be initiated in this Spring, but the European Parliamentary Elections have delayed that. When the new review starts there will full public consultation with an opportunity to propose new venues. Staff in the elections team constantly review provision and take account of objections and complaints. Where schools are used they will have been determined to be the most appropriate venue in terms of location, capacity and access. Until then we will be using the Polling Places that the Council has previously identified. Changes would be subject to a decision of Council or an emergency decision taken by the Lord Provost and Chief Exec.
In the Election Team we do appreciate the disruption that can be caused to children’s education by the closure of schools to allow polling. I am also aware of the impact on parents and carers who need to arrange alternative childcare. However, the Council has identified polling places that serve the electors of a local area in an effort to support democracy and promote participation. We are also aware that changing polling places can impact negatively on turnout so that is also considered.
You will be aware that for scheduled election the Council has made an effort to align in service training days with polling day. However, for unscheduled events such as this, unfortunately it is necessary to close the schools that are used as polling places.
Finally I would note that Poll Cards have now been printed and will be posted this week so we it is now too late to change the polling places that have been identified for these elections.