Ipswich: Electors mounted challenge over voting right

Around 15 voters were only able to take part in last week’s borough election after challenging the printed lists sent to polling stations, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The angry voters contacted the borough – or got polling station staff to contact the office for them – after turning up and being told they had been left off the electoral role.

However, officials at the borough denied a claim that up to five per cent of the borough’s electorate could have lost their vote because of the problem.

Ashley Miller, from Ancaster Road, Ipswich, found problems when he turned up to vote at the Paul’s Social Club off Belstead Road.

He said: “When I arrived at my designated polling station, I was initially told by the presiding officer that my name wasn’t on the list and that I couldn’t vote.

“After I queried this at some length, the presiding officer eventually agreed to call the Election Helpline and they confirmed that I was entitled to vote after all.

“I called the Election Helpline myself and was told this was a problem which had become more and more evident during the day, eventually culminating in up to five per cent of the electorate in Ipswich being affected in some way, across nearly all wards.”

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A spokesman for the borough said that the problem only affected around 15 out of the 95,000 voters in the borough.

Although the names had been stored on the council’s electronic database, they had not been printed on the lists sent to polling stations – but once the names had been checked the voters were able to vote.

The spokesman said: “Every year on polling day, the council gets a number of calls from people about a range of voting issues.

“This year we had fewer calls than in many previous years. However, one issue that was raised by about 15 callers was that they were not on the electoral registers when they visited their local polling stations (of which there are over 70 across the town).

“In such instances, the council checked its records and where it was determined that a clerical error had taken place the relevant people were allowed to vote.

“Our presiding officers (in charge of each polling station) are trained to ensure that any queries raised at polling stations are dealt with via calls to our elections team and in addition to this our team of polling station inspectors visited each polling station at least three times on election day.

“We are satisfied that this election was well run and managed fairly and efficiently.”