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Extra staff drafted in after high turnout led to long queues at last election

The council has drafted in extra staff for the borough’s polling stations this year, after some voters were left queuing round the block last time.

At the 2010 general election there were reports of confusion and long delays at some polling stations in Southwark after the turnout was much higher than expected possibly because the local elections were on the same day.

Voters waited for up to an hour in some places with Dulwich Village polling station described as having ‘queues out the door’ and Charles Dickens Primary ‘chaotic with long queues’.

This year Southwark Council’s returning officer, Deborah Collins, has told the News it is ready for a “high voter turnout.”

“We are preparing for a high voter turnout across the borough on May 7,”she said, “and are staffing our polling stations accordingly, particularly in areas where turnout has been high historically.

“In 2010 queues were a problem for the whole country and, although we managed in this borough much better than in many places, we’ve learned from that experience.  “We have extra technology and staff to try to speed up queries on registration that come up at polling stations, and we have standby staff who can get swiftly to polling stations to help out if queues do build up.

“But it always gets very busy in the last hour of polling, so I would encourage voters to try and visit their polling station earlier if they can on election day,” she added.

Although voting closes at 10pm, the law has recently changed to allow people in the queue at that time to place their vote.

Last election, Dulwich and West Norwood had the highest turnout with 66.2 percent, up 9.3 percent on 58.1 percent in 2005. Camberwell and Peckham came in second with a turnout of 59.3 percent, up 7.3 percent on 52 percent in 2005 with Bermondsey and Old Southwark on 57.5 percent, up 8.8 percent from 48.2 percent in 2005.


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