UK election 'as normal' after error

UK election 'as normal' after error

The election in Darlington where a Ukip candidate was mistakenly left off ballot papers delivered to a polling station will continue as normal, the constituency’s acting returning officer has said.

The name of David Hodgson did not appear on voting papers delivered to the Harrowgate Hill ward in the Darlington constituency in County Durham but the count and election will go ahead as normal.

This has led to 89 voters posting their ballot papers before the mistake was spotted.

Darlington’s acting returning officer Cath Whitehead said the decision had been taken to ensure the voters’ ballots remained confidential and stressed that Mr Hodgson or other voters “have the right to challenge the outcome”.

Ms Whitehead said: “We would like to issue a sincere apology to David Hodgson, the Ukip candidate, and the 89 voters at Whessoe Parish Hall who placed their votes before the error on the ballot paper was spotted and rectified. This was due to our error.

“The decision has been made to continue with the election and the count as normal as we wish to maintain the individuals’ rights to have the way they voted remain confidential, this would not be the case if we went through the ballot boxes and pulled out the 89 votes.

“The candidate and any electors have the right to challenge the outcome.”

Mr Hodgson said he would wait until the outcome of the election before deciding whether to challenge the result, saying if he loses by a small margin he will seek legal advice.

The Ukip candidate said: “I think it would be irresponsible to demand a byelection, to impose a large expenditure on the people of Darlington and we will wait and see what the actual vote is.

“If the people of Darlington decide to elect a Ukip candidate then I will have won but only with slightly less votes.

“But if I was to lose by a very short margin, and there have been polls before when people have lost by a small number, then we would have to ask questions and we would need to take legal advice.”

Mr Hodgson added: “We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again, not just for myself but other constituencies across the UK.

“Us Brits feel very, very strongly about our voting system – England is the father of democracy, so it is very, very important.”

The mistake was one of a series of election day glitches.

In Hackney, in east London, it was reported that dozens of residents were unable to vote after their names did not appear on the council’s printed register.

Hackney Council said there had been IT problems relating to voters who had registered using the Government’s online system.

“We know that there has been an issue for some of our voters who used the Government’s online registration system, where they are not appearing on our printed register,” the council said in a statement.

“Nearly all of these have been able to vote after we have resolved their cases on our system. We are working hard to ensure that all those who are eligible are able to vote and we are confident that the vast majority of Hackney residents will be able to vote without any problems.”

A spokeswoman for the council – which covers the constituencies of Hackney North and Stoke Newington and Hackney South and Shoreditch – said that as of Wednesday night it was aware of around 100 voters who had problems, of whom 60 had received help.

It follows previous reports that voters in the borough failed to receive their postal voting forms after the council was overwhelmed with more than 28,000 applications.

In Portsmouth a man was detained after a fracas at a polling station.

The 28-year-old was arrested for a public order offence at a polling station at Wimborne Junior School for allegedly arguing with a teller who asked for his registration number.

Meanwhile, Hounslow Council has apologised after sending around 3,000 voters to the wrong polling booth, in a mix-up of addresses printed on polling cards.

The council is hand delivering letters to affected voters and is running a shuttle bus service between polling booths in Southville Road and Bedfont Library.

A spokesman said: “We are sorry, but the polling cards for some registered voters living in Bedfont have the wrong polling station details printed on them.

“We are hand delivering letters to those properties that have been affected.

“A free bus shuttle service between the two polling stations will be running until 2.30pm and again from 5pm to 10pm.”

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