Hundreds of thousands of British citizens were left unable to vote around the world and across the UK after registering to vote by post.
Ex-pats from all over the world have complained that they did not receive their ballot papers in time to vote in the general election.
Speaking in the Independent, Brian Cave, 82, an expat in south-eastern France, has been compiling a dossier of evidence of the problem which he plans to send to the Electoral Commission. He said reports have come in that standard UK postage was used on ballot papers that arrived too late to be sent back by the close of voting at 10pm last night.
“I have received complaints from people about the non-reception of voting papers from as far apart as California, Massachusetts, Norway, France and Spain,” said Mr Cave, who runs a blog supporting the rights of Britons overseas.
He said: “If the numbers of voters who complain that they were unable to vote because of this management error exceed the margin by which the supposed ‘winner’ gained the seat, then the election should be declared void and rerun.”
Anne Casey, a Labour voter who lives in Saint Même les Carrières, Charente, France, belongs to a web forum of English-speaking women there. She said that around half of the 200 members she spoke to reported that they did not receive any papers despite being successfully registered.
“That means that 50 per cent of us who have bothered to do our civic duty have been denied our voice and our vote. Emmeline Pankhurst must be spinning in her grave,” she said. “I’m very angry.”
Jim Godfrey – who served as press secretary for the David Miliband leadership campaign in 2010 – moved with his wife to California from the UK two years ago. They went to special lengths to make sure their Labour votes were counted.
“We only received our postal votes on Friday last week. We had to pay to get them FedExed to the returning officer in Hornsey and Wood Green, London, in time,” he said. “My wife and I are former Labour Party special advisers from 2001 to 2005 so obviously we were very keen to ensure our votes got through.”
MOD personnel serving abroad also fell victim to incompetence as ballot papers failed to reach them in time to vote.
It is not only ex-pats who were prevented from voting by post. Many people across the UK have reported that they did not receive ballot papers even though they had registered with their local councils in plenty of time.
IT wasn’t only postal voters who were unable to cast their votes because of incompetency.
People in Hackney were turned away from polling stations because of the council’s IT system could not cope with the number of people registering to vote in the final week leading up to the registration deadline of 20th April.
According to the council around 20,000 people had tried to get their names on the electoral register in the rush, which resulted in many being left off.
Over 100 people were turned away from polling stations on Election Day, and many others complained they had not received their postal voting forms.
Residents took to twitter and other social media and attacked the ‘outrageous failure’ which stopped them voting for Labour candidate, Diane Abbot. Abbot also took to twitter writing ‘Spent months persuading people to register to vote. Now Hackney council completely messes things up. Made no contingency for the numbers.’
In other areas of the country thousands were left without polling cards despite registering to vote in plenty of time. Many people did not realise that they could vote without the card, and failed to attend polling stations.
In Hull East ballot postal voting papers were issued without the full line-up of candidates. Around 6000 people who had registered for the postal vote received ballot papers with the Labour and Green Party candidates missing.
Other anomalies and blunders have cast doubt on the validity of votes cast in some areas of the UK.
In the marginal seat of Milton Keynes, the expected four ballot boxes of pre-cast votes turned into a staggering 18 BOXES.
The surprise number of ballot boxes, which are counted in advance of the main count, contained 4,600 voting papers, many more than the usual number of postal votes cast in the area.
Then there is the case of a van being stolen which was transporting 200,000 ballot papers from London to East Sussex. Police said that they did not think the van was stolen for its contents, but questions have to be asked about the security of ballot papers in transit.
Of course, the question is would the incompetence of officialdom and anomalies have resulted in a different outcome to the general election. The simple answer is that we don’t know. Although we have a very rough idea of how many people were denied the right to vote, there may be many others who have not reported problems to local authorities or the Electoral Commission.
However, it does cast doubt on the whole system when citizens are denied their ‘democratic’ right to vote.
“Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.”– George Bernard Shaw
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