Mansfield mother and daughter who worked at same polling station reveal all about the role

Have you ever wondered what it’s like working in a polling station on election day?

Monday, 16th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 20th December 2019, 10:36 am

From 7am starts to 10pm finishes and sitting in an often small room for 15 hours, it is certainly a job that takes its toll on your body and soul.

But for a Mansfield mother and daughter with a keen interest in politics, this long day became a whole lot easier after they were selected to work together at the same polling station.

Helen Bingley, 51, who has been overseeing elections for about eight years, spent the day with her 27-year-old daughter Heather Mooney at the Tuxford Court polling station in Bellamy Road – and said it was a “fascinating experience”.

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Heather Mooney, 27, and her mum Helen Bingley, 51, at the Tuxford Court polling station.

And it was all possible because Helen, who is now a presiding officer for the elections, managed to put in a special request to spend the day with her daughter.

Now recovering from the long day, Heather has revealed some of the weird and wonderful scenes the pair witnessed during their first election day together.

“One of the weirdest points was when a woman came in wearing Santa socks, which I was just so fascinated by, and then she said to me ‘I’m surprised you’ve not noticed the rat in my hood”, she said.

“I thought she was joking at first but when I looked she had actually brought in her pet rat. It was hilarious because mum absolutely hates rats.”

The Tuxford Court polling station, in Bellamy Road.

She also noted that a man came into the polling station at 9.50pm and asked whether his wife had turned out to vote, and when he was told she had not, he ran home to get her.

“The next thing you know this woman comes running into the polling station at 9.58pm, I think from across the estate in her pink pyjamas, so she had clearly been in bed”, she added.

Despite the camaraderie the duo said that they could “feel the importance” of Thursday’s election, both saying that they were surprised with the high 64 per cent turnout considering the cold, wet and wintry night.

Helen said: “We had a lot of people coming in on the day who had never voted before, and they were asking us how to actually cast their vote.

“You could really feel that people were motivated to have their voices heard, but we also had so many undecideds – more than I’ve seen in my time.”

Throughout the day it was their job to ensure people were voting in the right place, encountering a lot of first-time voters, and to make sure the ballot papers arrived for the overnight count.

And while Helen is used to taking part in the role without her daughter, she said she would love to spend it with Heather again as it helped “make the time go so quick”.

Heather, who is also a young mother, added that she felt “empowered” working at the polling station, and that it was something she had got from her mum.

The process to work in polling stations is simple, and if you want to get involved at the next general or local election, you can contact your district council to become a clerk.