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12th May 2017

Supporting our electoral administrators: Letter from Solace President Jo Miller

This is a letter sent by Solace President Jo Miller, Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council to fellow Chief Executives in England, as well as regional leads in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

Dear Colleague,

On behalf of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, following last week’s local and mayoral elections held across the country, I would like to offer a huge congratulations to all Returning Officers and their teams on the successful running of another round of smooth, secure and efficient elections. Delivering such clear and confident results would not have been possible without the detailed planning and preparation, a credit to the hard work of the whole-council staff throughout the year.

In light of the upcoming General Election on 8 June and the increasing pressures election teams are facing over the next few weeks, I hope you don’t mind me stressing the critical importance of providing appropriate support to our electoral administrators and highlighting some of the very real issues they face during this challenging time. Colleagues at the Association of Electoral Administrators have notified us that some of their members feel they are under severe strain but do not feel able to ask for help in case this is perceived as weakness. I know we would not
want that. I am told that there are some instances of staff feeling the need to resign because they feel underresourced and under-supported, with the attendant negative effects on their well-being. This is but one example which highlights how vital it is to understand and address the increasing pressures on the electoral community, and a reminder to support and protect our teams over the coming weeks using the widest available Council resources.

As Chief Executives, we need to do our best to ensure that senior managers in our organisations give a greater focus and attention to the risks around the delivery of elections and the well-being of those individuals who are directly involved.

Whilst election teams across the country are already receiving great support with technical resources, it is vital to keep in mind the pressures faced by individual electoral administrators and to address them accordingly. Please can you give your teams a check-in and some support, if you have not done so already, and let them know that asking for help is OK?

Thanks very much.

Kind regards,

Jo Miller