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The proclamation, and notices of election, must be given publicly, at the usual place or places, within the hours of eight o'clock in the forenoon, and four o'clock in the afternoon, from the 25th day of Oct. to the 25th day of March inclusive, and within the hours of eight and six from the 25th of March to the 25th of Oct. inclusive, and not otherwise; and, in default of observing this, the election is utterly void. A Committee of the House of Commons will not, however, declare an election void for any irregularity in this respect, unless it appears that the result has been affected by it.b





The Court, for the purpose of election in counties not divided Place. by the Division and Boundary Act, must be held at the most usual place of election during the forty years immediately preceding, except where otherwise specified by statute, as in the following counties: Brecknock, at Brecknock; Radnor, at New Radnor or Rothergorry; Montgomery, at Montgomery or Machynlleth; Denbigh, at Denbigh or Wrexham; Monmouth, at Monmouth or Newport; Glamorgan, at Bridgend. The Court, in counties Time. divided, must be held at the places mentioned in the Division and Boundary Act, or at any place in the neighbourhood of the place appointed by that Act, at which such Court may have, before the Reform Act, been held, or which may be convenient for that purpose, according to the discretion of the Sheriff Additional polling places have been appointed under the 6 & 7 Will. 4, c. 102.

At each polling place (in a county election) as many polling Polling booths must be provided as will allow one for every 450 electors. booths. There must be affixed, upon the most conspicuous part of each of the said booths, the names of the several parishes, townships, and places, for which such booth is allotted. Likewise for the use of Register of each booth the Sheriff must, before the day fixed for the election, voters. cause to be made a true copy of the register of voters; and shall under his hand certify every such copy to be true. The polling booths are erected at the joint expense of the several candidates; that is to say, by contract with them, if they shall think fit to make such contract; if not, to be erected by the Sheriff, at their expense, subject to limitation. As the Sheriff's power to erect booths is not absolute, but conditional only, inasmuch as it arises only on the default of the candidates themselves not contracting, a formal request should, in prudence, be made upon them to do so; for, in suing any candidate for his proportion, it must be averred and proved (if denied) that the candidates did not conIf any person be proposed, without his consent, the pro


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before Election.

Deputies and poll clerks.

poser, quoad the expense, is liable as a candidate. The expense of the booth or booths to be erected at the principal place of election, or at any of the polling places, must not exceed 40l., in respect of such principal place of election, or of any one such polling place. The Sheriff may, if he think fit, instead of erecting booths, procure, or hire, and use, any houses or other building for the purpose of taking the poll therein; subject, always, to the same regulations, provisions, liabilities, and limitations of expense, as booths are subject to. The Sheriff has power to appoint deputies to preside, and clerks to take the poll at the principal place of election; and also at the several places appointed for taking the poll for any county, or any riding, parts, or division of a county. The former to be paid each two guineas a day, the latter one guinea. The Sheriff, as returning officer, is to administer to the poll clerks the following oath, before beginning to take the poll:

Commissioners for administering oaths.

Poll Clerk's Oath.

I A. B. do swear that I will at this election of a member [or "members"] to serve in parliament for [the eastern division of] the county of C. truly and indifferently take the poll and set down the name of each voter and his addition profession or trade and the place of his abode and for whom he shall poll. And to poll no voter who is not sworn or put to his affirmation if legally required.b


The Sheriff, as returning officer, or his deputy, may also appoint a commissioner or commissioners to each polling place, for the of administering the oaths required to be taken by electors. But as deputies have the same power of administering the oaths or affirmations required by law, as the High Sheriff himself has, this appointment will seldom be made.

The High Sheriff, or, in his absence, the Under-sheriff, is authorised to appoint for each candidate such one person as shall be nominated to him by each candidate to be inspector Inspectors of every clerk who shall be appointed for taking the poll. There of poll


Cheque books.


must be provided for each booth a suffici nt attendance of constables or peace officers. What is a sufficient attendance will depend on a variety of circumstances not to be decided here.e Where booths are erected and poll clerks appointed, the Sheriff is to allow a cheque book for every poll book, for each candidate, to be kept by their respective inspectors, at every place where the poll for the election shall be carried on.

a Sect. 71.

b 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 25; but the omission does not avoid the election. 1 Peckw. 506.

34 Geo. 3, c: 73; 43 Geo. 3, c. 63.


d 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 25, s. 3. these appointments may be, and usually are, by parol.

e 6 & 7 Vict. c. 18, s. 90.


(Being Counties of themselves.)




The Sheriff, where he is returning officer, after indorsing the day of such receipt, and giving a memorandum of having so received it to the postmaster who delivered it to him, must cause public notice to be given of the time and place of election. It Notice of must be held, within the space of eight days next after that of time and place. receipt of the writ or precept; giving three days' notice thereof, at least, exclusive of the day of proclamation and of the day of the election. The notice must be given within the hours prescribed with regard to county elections.b Except as regards Coventry, in cities and towns being counties of themselves, there is no legislative provision as to the place where the election is to be holden. By the Reform Act (2 & 3 Will. 4, c. 45), the poll Time for was to remain open two days; but one day only is now allowed.d polling. By that stat., 600 might poll at each compartment; whereas now "the polling-booth, or compartment, at each polling place shall be so divided and arranged by the Sheriff, or other returning officer, that not more than 300 electors shall be allotted to poll in each such booth or compartment;" and "on the requisition of any candidate, or of any elector, being the proposer or seconder of any candidate, the booths or compartments of each polling place shall be so divided and arranged by the Sheriff, or other returning officer, that not more than 100 electors shall be allowed Numbers to to poll in each such booth or compartment: all expense, incident be polled at to such an arrangement, to be paid by the person making the each booth. requisition. If such a requisition be made, the Sheriff must, forthwith, give public notice of the situation of such booths. What has been said with regard to the Sheriff's power to erect booths in county elections, applies with equal force here, except as to the amount of expenditure; the expense to be incurred for any booth or booths to be erected for any parish, district, or part of any city or borough, shall not exceed the sum of 251. in respect of any one such parish, district, or part. In all other respects, as regards deputies, poll clerks, inspectors, commissioners to administer oaths, register of voters, cheque books, &c., the proceedings previous to an election in cities and towns, being counties of themselves, are the same as for counties.


(Not being Counties of themselves.)

When the Sheriff of the county has received the writ, indorsed it, and given a receipt for it, as in other cases, he must, forthwith,

a 3 & 4 Vict. c. 81.

b Ante, p. 55.

d 5 & 6 Will. 4, c. 36.
e 2 Will. 4, c. 45, ss. 71, 113.

21 Geo. 3, c. 54, s. 14.


before Election.

is no re

make out his precept, and, within three days after the receipt of the writ, cause it to be delivered to the proper returning officer, without fee, reward, or gratuity whatsoever.a

Sheriff's Precept to the Returning Officer.

Sir G. M. Bart. Sheriff of the said county to the returning officer of the borough of K. in the said county greeting: Know that I have received a certain writ of our Lady the Queen to me directed the tenor whereof followeth [the writ verbatim] and because the execution of the said writ belongs to you therefore by virtue of the said writ I require you that you forth with cause a burgess to be elected for the said borough in the place of the said according to the command of the said writ; when this my warrant shall be executed you shall make known to me immediately after the said election made so that I may certify the same together with the said writ and this precept return to our Lady the Queen in her Chancery forthwith. Hereof fail not. This is your warrant given under the seal of my office. Dated


day of


G. M. High Sheriff.

This precept, since the statute of 23 Hen. 6, c. 14, is an essential process; and any election had or votes given, without a lawful precept, or before the precept be read and published, are void and of no force. The precept ought to be directed to the returning officer; its validity, however, is not affected by any mistake in its direction. In case of mistake, a second precept may be sent to the returning officer. The Sheriff, if no precept be delivered, or one be delivered to a person who is not the proper officer, is Where there liable to be punished by the House. Where the place of returning officer is vacant, the Sheriff, whose ordinary business it is to direct the precept, must; in person, or by deputy, act as returning officer for the city or borough. He is, pro hac vice, returning officer. There will be a slight alteration in the return in such a case. On the day fixed for the election, the Sheriff opens the proceedings by proclaiming silence and reading the writ. Immediately after reading the writ, he must take and subscribe the bribery oath, to be administered to him by any justice or justices of the peace of the county, where such election shall be made, or, in his or their absence, by any three electors.

turning officer the Sheriff to act.

Bribery Oath.

I A. B. do swear that I have not directly or indirectly received any sum or sums of money office place or employment gratuity or reward or any bond bill or note or any promise or gratuity whatsoever either by myself or any other person to my use or benefit or advantage for making any return at the present election of members to serve in parliament and that I will return such person or persons as shall to the best of my judgment appear to have the majority of legal votes.


Ante, p. 54.

b See an historical account of this

precept, 1 Roe on Elect. p. 397, n.

c Dixon v. Fisher, 4 Burr. 2267;

2 Heyw. 47, 126.

d 2 Heyw. 65.

e Ib. 69. As I do not write for any but the Sheriff, I refer all other returning officers to Rogers and Roe on Elections; above all, to Mr. Warren's able "Manual of Parl. Election Law," 1852. f 6 & 7 Vict. c. 18, s. 99.

openly before the and every clause The omission, howHe then calls upon

Duties at

County Election.

He must then read, or cause to be read, electors there assembled, the Bribery Act, therein contained, under the penalty of 501. ever, to do this does not avoid the election. the electors to name the candidates. If fewer candidates be Nominanominated than the number required by the writ to be returned, tion. the Sheriff, as returning officer, has no authority to open a poll, to allow time for the appearance of another candidate; he is bound, forthwith, to return those nominated. If the number required appear, he must, at once, return them. If more, the election is made by the view, or by the poll.c

An election by the view is where it is made with the consent of Election. the freeholders then present, and no poll is demanded for the determination thereof.d An election by the poll is where the polls of the electors are numbered. The proper time to demand a poll is when the returning officer decides that A. or B. has the show of hands in his favour. The right to demand a poll is necessarily incident to the election. It appears, from the earlier cases, that the Sheriff was not bound to grant a poll, unless a real doubt arose as to the majority of the persons then present; but, it being now established that the voters need not be present at the reading of the writ, it necessarily follows, that the number or expression of those present at the reading of the writ is no rule; and that, without regard thereto, the Sheriff must grant a poll when duly demanded. If he refuse or neglect to grant the poll, Poll. when demanded, the election would be void, and the Sheriff, as returning officer, punished If, however, after such demand, no votes be tendered, within a reasonable time, he may return according to the view. In Westminster (1661), the High Bailiff waited above half an hour, after the appointment of poll clerks, to take the poll, which had been demanded; no votes being tendered, he returned the candidates with the majority on the view, and it was resolved that they were duly elected. When once the poll has been granted, the Sheriff must proceed with it, although the party, who demanded it, should waive it, or disturb the proceedings; otherwise the election will be void. A fresh candidate may be proposed at any time during the poll, and his election will be good.


Every candidate must, upon a reasonable request made to him, at the time of such election, or at any time before the day named in the writ of summons for the meeting of Parliament, by or on behalf of any candidate at such election, or by any two or more registered electors having a right to vote at such election, make and

a 2 Geo. 2, c. 24, s. 3.

b Dougl. 452.

e Bristol, 1 Dougl. 245; Montgomery, 15 Journ. 94; 1 Heyw. 376; 1 Peckw. 83.

d 7 & 8 Will, 3, c. 25, s. 3.

e Anthony v. Seger, 1 Hag. Ca. Con. Court, 13; Faulkner v. Elger, 4 B. &

C. 449; Campbell v. Maund, 5 A. & E.

f 1 Heyw. 360, 367.

* Rogers on Elections, 17; Clerk on Election Com. 75.

h 8 Journ. 280; 1 Heyw. 370.

i 1 Whitelock, 387; Glan. 133, 141;

4 Inst. 48.

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