Electoral administration isn’t going quite as well as it should…

First, the good news: all the reports so far indicated a strong surge in people registering just before the deadline earlier this month. The Independent has some further figures to add to earlier reports. Thankfully, Havering Council with its hostile approach to people using the Electoral Commission’s website seems to be very much the exception. Whilst its electoral division has called “ridiculous” the number of people registering at the last moment, other councils have welcomed the surge of interest rather than criticised it.

Then the not so good news…

Allegations of postal vote fraud: the scale of the allegations, and the evidence for them, is growing in Tower Hamlets, as the Evening Standard has reported.

Misprinted ballot papers: rather a mess has been made of issuing the postal votes in Haringey. Not only have they gone out much later than in other places, but around 700 general election ballot papers had a printing error telling people to vote for no more than three candidates rather than no more than one.

More ballot paper problems: 2,000 ballot papers in Preston have had to be pulped and replaced after it turned out they had the wrong party logo on them.

Wrong instructions supplied with postal ballots: thousands of postal voting packs are being reissued in the Vale of Glamorgan after wrong instructions on how to fill out the packs went out first time round.

Missing windows in envelopes: in Kensington and Chelsea, around 14,000 letters have had to be sent out after a mistake with the initial issue of postal ballots. People had been told to fold the paperwork so that information showed through the window on the return envelope. One problem: they weren’t windowed envelopes.

Number of postal voters halves: in Northern Ireland, that is.

Error in statement of candidates nominated: over in Tower Hamlets, the statement of poll listing the candidates has an error on it. Candidates can choose whether or not to have their full home address printed or only the constituency in which they reside. However, in the case of one independent candidate they are down as living in “Haringey” constituency which has the slight problem of not existing.

UPDATE: Further stories reported in The Guardian.

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This entry was posted in Election law.


  • Andrew Suffield 1st May '10 - 12:00pm

    Our system for running elections does seem to be a bit dodgy. As far as I can make out, it’s done via a mixture of local government meddling and civil service bureaucracy, neither of which have a reputation for efficiency or even impartiality.

  • Liberal Eye 1st May '10 - 6:12pm

    If the organisation of voting is devolved to local authorities there are statistically bound to be a few misprints and so on.
    The alternative of organising it centrally means that any mistake will affect far more people though be correspondingly less common.

    But the real problem with central organisation is that it can be corrupted much more easily – a corrupt government only needs to subvert a single organisation. By contrast subverting many local authorities would be so difficult it’s not worth even attempting.

    It may not be perfect but we should stay with the traditional system.

  • Andrew Suffield 1st May '10 - 7:24pm

    I’d prefer to scrap the focus of authority on an arbitrarily selected Returning Officer. Surely we can think of a better way to run an election than to pick a bureaucrat, give them no real accountability or oversight, and expect everything to work out?

  • Bill Miller 1st May '10 - 11:14pm

    Thank you Liberal Eye for a strongly Liberal argument for the dispersion and devolution of power.

    It is the ease with which postal voting can be abused that particularly concerns me. The present system is deeply unsatisfatory with regard to security against fraud and needs major review. Furthermore, I am not very happy with large numbers of people voting in advance of voting day … although I recognise that the Swedish system has some merits over our own. However, people who struggle to get to a polling station because of ill-health would not be helped particlarly by that system.

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