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Election Day


In my last post I talked about canvassing (and leafleting) in the run up to the recent general election. The actual day itself was interesting and occasionally amusing, so let's wibble about that for a while.

As I said before the object of canvassing is to identify people who say they will, or may, vote for your candidate so on election day your aim is to get out your vote. The traditional method is "knocking up", so you literally knock on people's doors and ask them if they've voted yet. If they haven't then you are allowed to offer then a lift1.

The SNP however have a new (to me at least) strategy which is door hangers. The way this works is that the first activity of the day is visiting all your voters and hanging a card on their door handle. Sadly I didn't retain any of these but you can see one I'd just placed in this photo:

SNP Door Hanger

It's not a very clear photo but what it says at the top is "TODAY IS POLLING DAY", in the centre there's a space where a sticker has been placed which identifies the voter's polling station, and at the bottom there's the SNP logo.

This seems like a good time to pause and think a bit about these hangers. As far as I can make out from Google searching they're an American idea and the SNP seem to like them (they also deployed them at a recent by-election in Inverness). I can see their merit from the party's point of view but I wonder about the legality of them. The issue is the GDPR. We have gathered data about the household (in that we know they're likely to vote SNP). Now that's their personal data so we have an obligation to handle it responsibly and surely part of that is not disclosing it to other people without the voter's consent. This hanger however makes it very clear to anyone with a clue that the people in this house are likely to vote SNP. I can't help thinking that this is a data breach but I'm sure the party, and any others who're using them, will have run this past their lawyers first ...

Anyway let's get back to election day. Before 8am I was walking around my local area hanging these on doors. It was December, in Scotland, and it was sub-zero so there was black ice about. Unsurprisingly I slipped and fell over. Thankfully I was (relatively) prepared for this so it was all fairly controlled and I ended up just sat down on the road but I did message our organiser to warn other volunteers of the danger.

My Knee on election day

By lunchtime I'd done all the local ones so me and another volunteer, John, went out in his car to do some more. And there I had my second tumble of the day, although less well controlled.

It was simple clumsiness: I was in a hurry to get to a door and tripped on a bump in the pavement, fell badly and tore a hole in my trousers and my knee.

I was just tired, I'd been at it flat out since I got up. So we went back to HQ and swapped cars so I was driving while John did most of the doors.

... which lead to the "Last of the (Nairnshire) Summer Wine" incident.

We stopped in Merryton Crescent and agreed that while John started on the houses there I'd walk back to Lochloy Road and deal with one house we'd missed.

As I walked away I suddenly thought "did I lock the car". I looked back, pressed the button, the car locked, and I kept walking.

When I got back a few minutes later the hazard lights were flashing, which seemed odd. Had I left a window ajar so the alarm had triggered? Anyway I blipped the remote to unlock the car ... and John got out!

Turns out that when I got out of the car John lingered to work out which house he was doing first ... and then there was a clunk and he was locked in. And of course now he's in there and it's locked as he moves around the alarm goes off.

We old people shouldn't be allowed out unsupervised!

Anyway we carried on. By now we'd switched to actually knocking up before putting on the hangers since it was now mid-afternoon and John found a nice old lady who was intending to vote so he offered her a lift.

We turned up at the polling station with her, both of us dressed in our yellow SNP jackets, and John helped her out of the car just as a young lady from the Lib Dems turned up at the polling station (presumably a teller or a polling agent). The look on her face was priceless and it illustrates rather nicely what the problem for the other parties was: lack of bodies on the ground.

I stopped shortly after this as I was knackered but we had volunteers out from first light until the polls closed getting out our vote. Of the other parties this was the only volunteer I saw all day.

  1. I'm not sure why this is legal when "treating" in general isn't, but apparently it is.

Tags: Nairn, national politics, Scotland Written 08/01/20

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