What happens on election day? (part 2 of 2)

Narrator Brian: Polling stations open at seven on the morning of May the 5th. Schools, village halls and even private houses have been transformed for the day. The first voters arrive, calling in on their way to work. Eddie: Talk about keen, do they have to vote or something? Brian: In this country voting is not compulsory, but you do need to be on the electoral register. Eddie: Is that like the school register? Brian: Pretty much, it’s a list of names of everyone who is allowed to vote. To get on it you must be 18 or over. Eddie: Alright, so when I finally can vote, what do I do? Brian: Let me show you. Although it may not seem high tech, voting has been designed to eliminate the risk of cheating. Once you get to the polling station, your name is checked against the electoral register. It is then checked off, so that then no one else can vote using your name. Then you are given a ballot paper, that is another phrase for ‘voting slip’, which has an official stamp to prove it is genuine. You take the paper into a booth, put a cross against the name of the person you want to vote for, and fold the ballot paper so no one can see how you voted. Eddie: Why is it so secret? Brian: So no one can pressure you to vote a certain way. Then you post it into the ballot box, the ballot boxes are then sealed so that no one can tamper with them. Eddie: I was waiting for the feature film to start. Brian: Ok, here it is. It’s called the 2005 election results. Eddie: Catchy. Brian: When the polling stations close at ten o’clock in the evening, all the ballot boxes from each constituency are taken to the same place, emptied and the votes counted. In Watford they are brought to the Town Hall. The votes are counted by teams of helpers, in the presence of the candidates. When all the votes have been counted the results are announced. Mayor: And I declare the said, Claire Margaret Ward, is duly elected as Member of Parliament for Watford. Eddie: So Claire gets to keep her job? Brian: That’s right. She has won her seat, although her majority isn’t as large as it was in the 2001 election. Eddie: Right, so although she still won, fewer people actually voted for her this time Brian: There must be an echo in here; I’m sure that’s what I just said. Claire Ward: I’m obviously very happy that we’ve managed to get through and that it’s, given the state of things, a reasonable majority. Eddie: Well that’s just Watford innit? And I’m not really interested in Watford. What else is happening in 2005? Newsreader: Tony Blair is back in Downing Street for an historic third term. Eddie: So Labour won because they got the most votes? Brian: Not quite, although they did. They won because they won the most seats in the House of Commons. That’s the way our political system works. Eddie: ‘Ey up! It’s Tony Blair. Tony Blair: …I am going to focus relentlessly now… Brian: The winning political party lead by the Prime Minister now starts organising the new government. Just over 100 members of the party are chosen to be ministers. When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, he chose new ministers each with specific responsibilities, such as defence, health, or education.

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