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Supposing him to decide on such a step, the CHAP. III. following rules will enable him to calculate

how many copies he ought to prepare against the contingency of a contest.

The number of booths, or places for polling Number of in, requisite in case of a contest, has been thus booths. regulated by statute: In the city of London, the freemen, who are liverymen, and entitled to vote, are all polled in the Guildhall, and no booth or polling compartment may be provided.1 At the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Vice Chancellors, who are the Returning Officers, are authorised to appoint any number of places for polling in, not exceeding three, in addition to the House of Convocation or Senate House.3 In other cases, if a poll is demanded, the Returning Officer must provide at "each polling-place ❞—which here seems to mean each borough, or district at least one booth or compartment, for every three hundred electors.1 It is true, that the Returning Officer, if re- May be inquired by any candidate, or by any elector who creased on is the proposer or seconder of a candidate, must candidate. (at the applicant's expense) increase the above proportion of booths, or compartments, so as to admit of one for every hundred electors;5 giving public notice of the situation of such booths, or compartments. It is also true, that this requisition may be made too late to admit of the Returning Officer preparing certified copies of the register for such additional booths, or compartments, in time to have them ready (as the statute requires) before the day of election.

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72 Will. IV. c. 45, s. 68 (not applicable to Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; ib. s. 78); ante, p. 21.

requisition of

CHAP. III. The only mode, therefore, of securing himself on this head, is for the Returning Officer to cause to be prepared beforehand as many certified copies as there are hundreds of registered electors in each polling place, whether a contest is expected or not.

Or at discre-
tion of


statutable maximum


Nay, he may even foresee the necessity of providing copies for a still greater number of booths, or compartments; for he is himself the sole judge of how many more booths, or compartments, shall be provided1 than are required by the rules above mentioned; his discretion being only limited by the following statutable maximum of expense:

The Reform Act provides that no outlay shall however, to be incurred (except by way of contract with the candidates) beyond twenty-five pounds for the total number of booths erected, and buildings procured or hired, in any one parish, district, or part of any city, borough, or town. The meaning of the words here italicised has been much canvassed; the doubt raised being, whether the legislature meant to express districts and parts already existing and recognized, or districts and parts into which the Returning Officer may voluntarily divide the city, or borough, for the purpose of polling. With deference to the two learned authors who have come to a different conclusion, the weight of probability seems to point to the former construction. It is observable that Returning Officers are nowhere else invested with any such power of dividing boroughs into electoral parts or districts; unless the provision as to the Vice Chancellors of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, above mentioned, is to be re

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Russel's Treatise on the Reform Act, 98; Rogers,

22 (a).
4 Ante, 31.

garded as an instance. Nor, on the other hand CHAP. III. -though rules have been laid down by the legislature for carving out counties into such parts, or districts,has the Sheriff, who is Returning Officer, any share in the process. But, if it is thus clear that the Returning Officer of a county cannot evade the check imposed on his expenditure on booths, &c., by multiplying at will the polling districts, and by spending the statutable maximum in each district-why should the legislature be supposed, without express words indicating such an intention, to have invested, by the self-same clause, the Returning Officers of boroughs with an unfettered discretion ? Why, in short, should the limit of twenty-five pounds have been introduced at all, if it may thus be rendered nugatory? The true construction of the clause seems rather to be, that the Returning Officer is limited here to "districts or parts as well recognised as divisions, as the "parishes," with which they are associated in the clause in question. But, even supposing that he has been left a certain discretion as to what portions of the borough he will treat as "districts" or "parts" for the purposes of polling expenditure, he will certainly be responsible for exercising that discretion with a due regard to usage and the public interest.


The only boroughs in which the polling-places statutable seem to be fixed by statute, are those of Shore- pollingham, Cricklade, Aylesbury, and East Redford;2 those of Monmouth; and all the Welsh boroughs.3 A local Act, too, ordains that at Coventry the polling-place shall be at Cross Cheaping; but this would appear only to necessitate one of the polls being there taken.*

1 6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 102.

2 & 3 Will. IV. c. 64, s. 32.

3 2 Will. IV. c. 45, s. 74.

4 21 Geo. III. c. 54, s. 14; Coventry, C. & R. 269.


Such are the rules by which the Returning Returning Officer will be guided in deciding on the number Officer liable and situation of the booths, or places, for polling of booths, if in; and, consequently, on the number of copies a poll be not of the register which he ought to provide. In

for expenses


Must give


case he should feel uncertain as to the ultimate demand of a poll, he may naturally feel reluctant to make any further preparation for the election than publishing the notice of election, as above described, and providing the proper amount of certified copies of the register. For, if he does not obtain an indemnity from the proposed candidates, he will be personally liable for the expense of any further preparations for a contest, unless a contest actually takes place; that is to say, unless a poll is demanded on the day of election. His liability in this respect is, in fact, determined by precisely the same considerations as those which determine a Sheriff's liability in a county election.1

Nevertheless the statute compels the Returnnotice of the ing Officer to take upon himself some responsi bility in this respect; for (except in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge) he must have given public notice, two days before the election, of the situation, division, and allotment of the various booths, or compartments, for polling in, if a poll should be demanded on the day of election. Moreover, he must give this notice forthwith, at any time between the receipt of the writ and the day of election, if he is required so to do by a candidate, or by the proposer, or seconder, of a candidate.2

Full prepara

tions for a contest.

Let it, however, next be supposed that a contest is imminent, and that the Returning Officer desires to make full preparations for it. It has already been shown how, in the absence of any arrangement with the candidates, the notice of election ought to be given and published; how

12 Will. IV. c. 15, s. 68; ante, p. 23.
2 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 36, s. 5.

many copies of the register are to be prepared; CHAP. III. what are the rules for determining, and notifying, the number and situation of the booths, or compartments, for polling; and for regulating their cost.1 It is, however, competent to the candidates to authorise the Returning Officer, by a direct contract with him, and at their own expense, to exceed the statutable limits in the three last particulars.

be affixed to

Supposing, then, that the above preparations Names of have been made, there must be affixed upon the parishes to most conspicuous part of each booth, or place each booth. for polling in, the names of "the parishes, districts, and parts," for the electors of which it is allotted; and, further, each of such booths, or places, must be provided with a certified copy of the register of voters. At the Universities of Directions to Oxford and Cambridge, the Vice Chancellors are to issue directions as to which of the places the Univerappointed for the poll, the members of the convocation and senate are, according to their colleges, to vote in.5

be issued as to voting at


The next duty of the Returning Officer is to Returning appoint his staff.

Officer's staff.


At the University of Oxford, or of Cambridge, At the Unithe Vice Chancellor may appoint any number of pro Vice Chancellors, any one of whom is authorised to receive votes, or decide questions, in the Vice Chancellor's absence.5


In other borough elections, the Returning In other Officer must preside in person; for he is not, like the Sheriff,6 entitled to appoint such a number of Deputies as may relieve him alto

Ante, pp. 28-33.

22 Will. IV. c. 45, s. 71.

3 Ib. s. 68.

4 Ante, p. 30.

5 16 & 17 Vic. c. 68, s. 5. These directions will now be subject to the alternative method of voting by voting papers, under the provisions of 24 & 25 Vic. c. 53 (see APPENDIX, p. xxxvi).

6 Ante, p. 28.

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