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To ask the hon. Member for South-West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Electoral Commission has given to electoral returning officers on political party representatives or counting agents taking tallies of validated votes during an election count.
The Electoral Commission informs me that its September 2009 planning guidance for Returning Officers and the recently published full guidance manual for UK Parliamentary (Acting) Returning Officers advise that no part of the count should take place out of the sight of candidates and agents and that procedures should be transparent at all times.
The Commission recognises the important role carried out by candidates and agents in scrutinising the verification and counting processes. Candidates and agents may keep a tally of valid votes at the count.