Wolverhampton election investigation raises more doubts over how election was run

Wolverhampton signFollowing the revelations that the Wolverhampton South West result showed more ballot papers being counted than had been issued and that the official marked register for part of the constituency had gone missing both Wolverhampton Council and the Electoral Commission have been investigating.

The investigations have not only failed to locate the missing electoral register but also found that part of the marked register also went missing in a second Parliamentary constituency, Wolverhampton North East.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the ballot paper number discrepancy has revealed a bizarre decision taken during the verification stage of the general election. One batch of ballot papers was counted twice for verification purposes, with a difference of 20 votes between the two counts, a greater difference than would usually be accepted. It was therefore then counted a third time, coming up with a total 287 greater than the second count. At this point, it was decided not to count again and the third number – far different from the previous two numbers – was then recorded as the ‘correct’ figure.

Moreover, even had either the first or second number been used, the mismatch between the figures for ballot papers issued and votes counted would not have been fully accounted for. There was a 66 vote discrepancy between the declared totals. If the 163 rejected ballot papers are also taken into account, this made for a total discrepancy of 229. If the second of the verification tallies was correct, this becomes a discrepancy of 58 more votes having been issued than were counted. In other words, a problem of too many votes having been counted becomes a problem of too few.

No explanation has been provided as to what happened to these 58 in the statement from Wolverhampton Council’s Chief Executive outlining the result of his inquiries.

Altogether, the loss of parts of the marked register from two Parliamentary constituencies, the strange decision to take as correct a figure during the verification that was clearly different from the other two without any further checking, the declaration of a result whose numbers did not tally and the inconclusive investigation which has simply shifted the question over the mismatch leaves significant doubts over the quality of electoral administration in Wolverhampton.

It is not yet whether or not the Returning Officer is claiming his full fee for administering the election.

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This entry was posted in Election law.


  • Given the apparent maladministration here – and similar missing registers in Glenrothes after the by-election – at what point does the actual integrity of the election in the constituency get called into account?

  • I suggest that this makes a good case for abandoning counts on Thursday evening. The excuse about it being 5am as a reason for not recounting doesn’t stand up to scrutiny – the process could have been stopped if everyone was too tired to continue and resumed later on Friday. There are precedents for this in local elections to my certain knowledge.

    Isn’t it time we grew out of ‘ the excitement of election night’ in favour of getting it right? Under AV counts will take longer which justs adds to the case

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