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Glitches cause issues at the ballot box

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Administrative blunders during last week’s elections could leave a handful of results open to challenge.

Cath Whitehead, acting returning officer for the general election in Darlington, apologised to Ukip candidate David Hodgson and affected voters after his name failed to appear on ballot papers issued to one polling station. A total of 89 votes were cast before the mistake, caused by a guillotine being set to the wrong size ballot paper, was rectified. These votes were included in the final count.

Mr Hodgson suggested last week that Ukip would lodge a protest but a Darlington BC spokeswoman said no challenge of the result had been made.

An error by Fenland DC’s contracted printer saw one book of 100 ballot papers for the March North ward of March Town Council incorrectly display the names of the candidates for the district council election. Fifty-six misprinted ballot papers were issued before the mistake was spotted and these votes were rejected at the count.

Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, a petition questioning a local election can be presented within 21 days of an election by four or more people who voted or had a right to vote at the election, or by a candidate. A spokesman for Fenland DC said the result had not been challenged so far.

An estimated 100 people in Bournemouth BC were unable to vote when a printing error led to ballot papers for Kinson South being labelled as those for Kinson North, and vice versa, as the wrong ward name was printed on the cover of the ballot paper books.

Council staff hand delivered targeted flyers to affected individuals informing them that they should return to the polling station to vote in the local elections. A helpline was also made available.

Hackney LBC experienced an issue with some voters, who had used the national online registration system, not appearing on its printed register, but was unable to confirm to LGC how many people had been affected.  

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