What have elections and franchising got in common?

Errr…

Not much, actually.

It’s just that I should be writing about franchising but I’d rather write about the elections we’ve just been through.

But, having said that, I think the way the election was conducted could be improved if a few franchising principles were followed. I’m talking particularly about the problems voters had at various polling stations around the country.

It’s a disgrace that some people couldn’t vote but it’s even worse that, given the same situation in different places, the rules were interpreted in different ways.

Here’s a super fast précis of what happened for those of you that missed it:

There were people queuing at polling stations at the 10 pm cut off time. The rules say (something like) if you’re not inside the station and you don’t have a polling slip, you ain’t gonna vote.

So, some clever polling station managers (I think they’re called Returning Officers) took some initiative and got everyone jammed inside their station, gave them a polling slip and locked the doors… a rather different sort of lock in than I would have wanted.

Other polling station managers simply locked the doors with voters outside and disturbances ensued.

Hmmm…

So, where does franchising come in?

Well, there has to be a cut off time, that’s not the issue. But a good franchisor would anticipate the situation (remember, turnout was expected to be high, even though it wasn’t particularly) and would put in place processes for dealing with whatever was thrown at them.

For example, either, get everyone in the station and give them polling slips or lock everyone out… one or the other, because it’s supposed to be a blueprint.

But what if the Electoral Commission (who would be the equivalent of the franchisor), or whoever is in charge of the election process, actually regarded voters as customers, like we would in franchising?

It would change things and there would have been adverts, billboards, leaflets, whatever, that said things like…

‘…remember, turnout is likely to be high and most people will want to vote after work. So, get your vote in early to avoid the queues…’

To be honest, it’s not really rocket science is it?

Just another example of the disconnect between government and business, I would say, and even more of a reason that franchising is so important to the UK.

And, by the way, why, in 2010, are we still making a cross on a piece of paper and not using secure, handheld terminals, like we do for credit card transactions?

It would certainly make the counting quicker!

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