Published Thursday, 20 October 2011
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Voting on the Assembly and local government elections, and a referendum on Westminster was held on 5 May.
However, the report found that up to one third of ballot papers had mistakes on them and the material's design and volume caused problems.
The number of ballots spoilt at the Assembly election was 12,369, almost double the number at the previous poll in 2007.
"Poor planning, insufficient communication and the lack of an overall management plan for the count have been identified as the main reasons for the delays occurring," the independent elections watchdog said.
There were also problems with completing counts in a timely manner.
The Commission warned that this was partly due to significant inaccuracies in the accounts returned by presiding officers - but the pay of officers was not reduced for failing to complete essential tasks.
This decision was taken by chief electoral officer Graham Shields as a result of problems arising from the training received.
The report said: "The chief electoral officer said that the volume of training that the area electoral officers had to deliver for the combined polls placed a considerable burden on them."
"He concluded that this was a contributory factor in the tiredness and fatigue experienced by them on polling day and at the count.
"He also believed that too much reliance was placed on a small number of core staff at the election and the work needed to be better distributed."
The findings discovered that the staff group most affected by having to work long hours were Area Electoral Officers, who were responsible for training, polling day and the count.
The 62-page report also revealed that several count venues were not suitable and could not handle three counts on the same day.
Seamus Magee, head of the Commission, said: "The elections produced results that were accepted and voters' experience was generally positive.
"There was sufficient funding and resources in place for the delivery of the combined polls in May 2011, and while the registration process and the overall conduct of polling was a success it is disappointing that the same attention was not put into the management of the count."
Mr Shields has welcomed the findings and said he will consider them carefully.
"The Commission was closely involved in the planning arrangements for the polls from the beginning and I am pleased to note that many of their recommendations are already included in our review of election planning," he said.
"With regard to the issue of performance standards, uniquely for a UK returning officer, in my role as chief electoral officer I am directly accountable to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and through him to Parliament."
He added that, while he is happy to consider proposals from the Electoral Commission, any changes to existing arrangements can only be made with the Secretary of State's approval.