Snap elections are all about logistics

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 June 2017

The overall cost of the snap 2017 General Election has been estimated at up to £170m.

A supply chain consultancy has analysed the 2015 election and the role of logistics to calculate the figure.

Along with political party spending, resources are required to establish polling stations, send out postal votes, print ballot papers and organise staff.

During the 2015 election 7.6m postal votes were sent out, 46m poll cards and ballot papers were printed and 41,000 polling stations were used, staffed by more than 50,000 people.

Craig Ryder, director of consultants Go Supply Chain, said: “When on 18 April the prime minister announced that a snap election would take place on 8 June planning had to be fast tracked. Election planners now only had just over seven weeks.

“The parties face sharper logistics challenges too as the snap election virtually eliminated the long campaign. Political party planners had to funnel planning into the short campaign, which starts after parliament has dissolved and has tighter spending restrictions.

“The overall cost of the 2017 General Election is estimated between £140-£170m.”

The political parties combined are expected to spend:

£15.2m – mailouts

£7.7m – market research/canvassing

£6.9m – advertising

£2.8m – overheads and general administration

£2.5m – rallies and events

£1.7m – transport

£1.1m – manifesto material

£0.9m – campaign broadcasts

£0.4m – media costs

Just 48 minutes after the 2015 election polls closed, Houghton and Sunderland was the first constituency to declare, for the sixth General Election running.

Sunderland’s election planners have got the count off to a fine art, with planning beginning well in advance.

The “intralogistics” of the counting room have been analysed to ensure counters have the maximum room and ballot boxes have the quickest route from where they arrive to where they are emptied, verified and tallied.

Technology has been introduced to verify the numbers and collate information more quickly than a manual paper system can, while the weight of voting papers has been reduced by 20 grams to make them easier to handle.

Ballot boxes are barcoded and scanned when they leave the polling station and when they enter the counting hall. This has produced a decade’s worth of data, which is examined to see if more efficient routes can be plotted.

“Put together, these efficiencies add up to a substantial time saving,” said Ryder. “Sunderland does exemplify how, when General Election planners are called on to ensure the delivery of fast and accurate results in the compressed timeframe of a snap election, efficient logistics practices play an essential role in bolstering healthy democracy.”

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