Voters cast council election ballots in car after finding Sheffield polling station locked

Voters were surprised to find a Sheffield polling station locked this morning, but they never expected what happened next.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 3rd May 2019, 9:58 am

When a caretaker failed to arrive on time to open up the Beacon Centre in Arbourthorne this morning, resourceful polling station thought outside the box.

They turned a car into a makeshift booth to ensure nobody was delayed casting their ballots in the council elections, causing much amusement among early bird voters.

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Polling station staff beside the car which was briefly used as a makeshift voting booth for the council elections

Tim Brett, who has always prided himself on being the first to vote, said it was certainly the strangest place in which he has ever done so.

“I was so excited to get the vote as an 18-year-old that ever since then I’ve always made sure I’m first at the polling station,” said the 65-year-old.

“This morning I turned up at around 6.45am and there were some people standing outside the voting station, so I thought ‘oh no, someone’s beaten me to it’.

“I waved at them and when they waved back I realised they were the polling station staff, whom I’ve got to know over the years.

“The gates were still locked because obviously the caretaker had some problem at home and hadn’t been able to get there in time to open up.

“Time ticked on and when it got to 7am I jokingly said ‘it’s my democratic right to vote now’.

“They replied very seriously ‘we realise that’ and they got the ballot box ready, opened up the back of their estate car and said I could vote there.

“I couldn’t believed it was happening. They ticked me off on their list, gave me my slip of paper and when I asked what they were going to do for a secret booth they said they’d turn their backs while I put my cross in the box.”

Mr Brett said at least one other person voted in the car before someone eventually arrived with a key, ‘looking very embarrassed’, at around 7.10am.

Normal service was then able to resume at the polling station on Arbourthorne Road, which is in the Park & Arbourthorne Ward.

Voting in the Sheffield City Council elections began at 7am this morning and polling stations will be open until 10pm.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said that where a key to the building was not available, polling station staff were advised to use a car as a makeshift voting booth.

“The most important thing is that people who were there bang on 7am were able to cast their votes,” he added.