Council suffers ballot papers blunder

A PENSIONER has been left “extremely irritated” by a mix up on her postal ballot, which she fears could cost her the opportunity to vote.Patricia Hughes, 68, from Colchester, applied for a postal vote for the General Election - but when it arrived, the number on the ballot paper was different from the accompanying declaration form.

A PENSIONER has been left “extremely irritated” by a mix up on her postal ballot, which she fears could cost her the opportunity to vote.

Patricia Hughes, 68, from Colchester, applied for a postal vote for the General Election - but when it arrived, the number on the ballot paper was different from the accompanying declaration form.

Mrs Hughes rang Colchester Borough Council, which is responsible for distributing postal ballot forms, and it sent her a new form - but the number still did not match.

Mrs Hughes, of Claudius Road, said: “I shan't ever be doing this again. The vote is very precious for me, I don't want to lose my vote. They've made a real mess of this - I think it's disgraceful.


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“I am curious to know how many people have been affected. Some people might not have noticed.”

The problem only came to light after phone calls to the council from voters who were concerned over the mismatched papers.

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Vicky Hempstead, election services manager at Colchester Borough Council, said the problem was confined to 400 General Election postal ballot papers for the Colchester constituency.

“The mistake was due to human error, but the important thing is that we have contained the problem,” she added.

Mrs Hempstead assured voters the council was confident it could accurately cross-match all declaration forms with ballot papers and stressed no-one would lose the chance to vote.

Once the error was identified, all three parliamentary candidates standing for the Colchester constituency were contacted to ensure they accepted the steps the council had taken to put the situation right.

Mrs Hempstead said she was confident the mistake would not undermine the system's effectiveness against fraud.

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