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A counting agent is appointed by either the candidate standing for election or the candidate's election agent to oversee the counting at the election count. In the United Kingdom there is no legal requirement to appoint a counting officer. At elections in the Republic of Ireland, counting agents are called tallymen; they keep track not only of first-preference votes but also of transfers.
The number of counting agents which can be appointed is determined by the returning officer of the election and is usually dependent on the number of counting clerks at the count. Counting agents are appointed after the period when nominations to the election are made. The election timetable will state when counting agents have to be appointed, typically a week before polling day.
The role of the counting agent is to oversee the count itself, though they may not touch any of the ballot papers and must act through the returning officer.
During counts, generally only the candidate, the candidate's partner and the candidate's counting agents may enter the place where counting takes place.
- "The count" (PDF). Electoral Commission (United Kingdom).
- Regan, Mary (6 June 2009). "Art of the tallyman returns to centre stage at vote counts". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
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