“Bobby’s job” was one of those phrases that my parents used. It refers to a job that’s secure and well paid but doesn’t involve very much actual work. The phrase dates from the interwar period (1920s-30s) when low levels of crime meant that a policeman’s lot was actually quite a cushy one.
I was reminded of this today when I went to the Town Hall to count votes in the PCC elections (that’s PCC as in Police and Crime Commissioner, not Press Complaints Council or Parochial Church Council).
We arrived to be checked off, assigned to teams and be briefed on the procedure (this is my fourth election and no two have used the same voting method). Just after 10:00, we verified the votes and then sorted them into piles according to the first preference. Any “doubtful” votes were set aside to be scrutinized by the candidates’ representatives.
The process of separating out, double checking, counting and recounting (each bundle of votes has to be checked by two people) took us to about 10:45. We hung around until the result of the first count was declared at about 11:50 and were then sent off to lunch with instructions to be back no later than 13:45.
I had my sandwiches in Christ Church Meadow – contemplating the view (and the nice cows) and reflecting that, except for the iron railings, it had probably not changed much in the last 1,000 years. By the time I’d finished lunch, I was feeling distinctly parky, so headed off to the Japanese galleries at the Ashmolean to contemplate beautiful things.
Back at the Town Hall, we started the second count. Votes for the highest scoring first round candidates were excluded and we counted the second preferences on the remaining ballot papers. Our team had to count 350 papers (between 10 of us). More waiting until the final result was declared followed by an early finish. It’s the easiest day’s work I’ve ever done – what you might call a bit of a bobby’s job.
For the record:
- Turnout in Oxford : 12,046 (10.9% of registered voters)
- Rejected ballot papers (1st round): 746 (6% of votes cast)
- Rejected ballot papers (2nd round): 411 (4% of votes cast)
- Rejected ballot papers total: 1,157 (10% of votes cast)
- Votes for winning candidate: 7,502 (62.3% of votes cast)
- Votes for runner up: 2,789 (23.2% of votes cast)*
The runner up in Oxford was the overall winner in the Thames Valley.
Updated: 17th November 2012 – the original post gave the figures for the second count – these have now been corrected. Apologies for the error – it was the end of a long day.
Images: Photo of the count was taken with permission