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London Elects is the independent body in charge of organising the election of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The previous election took place on 1 May 2008. The London Elects team works directly for the Greater London Returning Officer (GLRO), Anthony Mayer, under a separate budget and reporting lines from the Greater London Authority (GLA). London Elects has two distinct functions – operations and communications.
The operations team is responsible for the planning and co-ordination of all logistical aspects of the elections. This involves:
- working closely with electoral staff in the 32 London boroughs and the City of London to provide training and support for polling station staff and to make sure everyone is well prepared for the election and the count
- managing candidate nominations for the Mayoral election and the London-wide list
- organising arrangements for the count
- managing the three count centres and the contract with Indra (the company providing electronic counting)
- working with the Government on budget and legal issues.
The communications team works to ensure that the election process is transparent and that information is made available to everyone – to London voters, candidates and political parties, the media and other election stakeholders. An important part of the team’s work is voter education. London Elects explains the registration and voting process and addresses the relevance of the Mayor and the London Assembly to the lives of Londoners. Activity is targeted at all of London’s diverse population. This includes the 5.5m registered voters and the unknown number of people in London who are eligible to vote but who are not on the electoral register. The communications team is working with the Electoral Commission on a public awareness campaign to raise the number of registered voters in London and explain the voting process.
Activities in the communications plan include:
- an advertising campaign
- the London Elects website
- PR activity, including briefings for journalists and events
- paper publications, including factsheets, staff training materials, candidate information and a monthly bulletin
- the statutory mayoral address booklet, comprising ‘mini-manifestos’ from mayoral candidates, delivered to all London’s 5.5m voters.
The communications team is also responsible for co-ordinating communications and media management during the counting of ballot papers and results announcement.
The elections budget
London Elects has a budget of over £18m. This pays for:
- hiring and staffing over 4,000 polling stations on election day
- the count on 2 May 2008, including the e-counting technology and the count staff
- training all the staff working in the polling stations and at the count
- all the materials that are needed to put on the election, including the ballot papers, ballot boxes and signs in the polling stations
- the public advertising and communications campaign
- delivery of the Mayoral Address Booklet to every registered London voter before election day.
The majority of the budget comes from the GLA reserve – money is put aside by the GLA every year to pay for the elections
Following the 1999 GLA Act, the first London Mayoral and London Assembly elections were held in 2000. These first elections were organised by the Government Office for London. Following a report into the running of this election, and continuing the transfer of powers to the new GLA, London Elects was established in 2003 at the request of the GLRO. The first election organised by the team was the 2004 London Mayoral, London Assembly and European election.
- London Elects Official website
- The Electoral Commission website
- GLA official website
- Independent election platform
- Bennett, Catherine (2004-06-03). "Voting made complicated". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- Adam Ray (2003-10-15). "Mayoral election vote system prompts fears of confusion". This is Local London. Newsquest Media Group. Retrieved 2008-01-13.