Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your request for
information (ref FOI 30582).

The relevant Council Service(s) has searched for
the requested information and our response is as follows:

Are postal votes counted before the rest of the votes are
counted on election night, and if so which individuals are privy to the number
of votes cast for each party?

can confirm that postal votes are not counted by candidate/party before the
close of poll on election day and so no individual is aware of the number of
votes received by any candidate/party before the count takes place.

process that is followed in respect of opening postal votes is specified in the
Representation of the People (England & Wales) Regulations 2001.
Essentially this provides that:

The envelope containing the postal vote statement
and the envelope containing the ballot paper(s) is opened

The postal vote statement is checked to ensure it is
signed and dated and the number on the statement matches that on the ballot
paper envelope

The signature and date of birth on the postal vote
statement are scanned and the details compared to the master images kept by the
Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) as part of the postal vote application

If the postal vote statement is accepted, the envelopes
containing the ballot paper(s) then passes to the next stage of the process

When the postal vote statements have been scanned and
adjudicated, the envelopes containing the ballot paper(s) are then opened and
the number of ballot papers received are counted FACE DOWNWARDS so that any
candidates/agents observing the process is not able to see which
candidate./party the elector has voted for. The ballot papers are not sorted
into candidates/parties but the total number of ballot papers received is
calculated and the ballot papers sealed into ballot boxes ready to be included
in the count when it commences after the polls close.

the signature or date of birth on the postal vote statement does not match that
held by the ERO the postal vote is rejected. Any elector whose vote is rejected
for these reasons is contacted after the election so they are aware their
vote was disallowed and if necessary they can provide a fresh signature.

Yours sincerely,

FOI Officer