Mid Devon’s Returning Officer Reflects on Role Ahead of Elections
The District Council's Returning Officer, Jill May, has spoken about the honour and hard work that comes with being responsible for fair, timely, and proper elections for the people of Mid Devon.
Jill will retire following the upcoming election in May, having been in the role since 2016 she has played a critical part in local democracy. Her duties as Returning Officer include to oversee voter registration, ensure that electoral registers are up-to-date, deal with queries, and oversee the many steps involved in an election, from initial nominations to counting the ballots. She is responsible to the courts and not to the Council.
As the district and parish elections approach on Thursday 4 May, Jill and her team are preparing for an early start to ensure that all polling stations are up and running, dealing with any issues that arise during the day, and going to the count. The team expects to finish the verification process in the early hours of Friday morning and start the count shortly after. With 42 district councillor roles and 10 parishes up for election, the process is expected to be lengthy and exhausting – something that the team is used to, with many a 6AM finish.
Jill May, Returning Officer, said:
“Despite the challenges that come with the role, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the democratic process, which has allowed me to witness first-hand the excitement of election time and the dedication of the election team, including the Elections Manager, Jackie, who has been nationally recognised for her excellent work.”
This year, the team faces an added complication with Voter ID being rolled out nationally, the biggest change to in-person voting in 150 years. The change will mean voters will be required to prove their identity by showing a form of photographic identification, before being given their ballot paper in a polling station.
For information relating to the upcoming elections, including voter ID, please visit the Council website: www.middevon.gov.uk/2023-elections/.
Reflecting on her favourite memory from her time as Returning Officer, Jill said:
“At the parliamentary by-election last year, the sea of photographers and film cameras from all areas of the press capturing the High Sheriff of Devon announcing the results was a satisfying moment.”
While not planning on taking part in the electoral process once she finishes work, Jill acknowledges that ‘you never know what the future holds’.