Labour and Green candidates left off postal ballot papers

Postal ballot papers for Hull East. Notice that no Labour or Green candidates are listed.

Postal ballot papers for Hull East. Notice that no Labour or Green candidates are listed.

High-profile Labour MP Karl Turner’s name has been omitted from 480 postal ballot papers in his Hull East constituency due to what the local council is calling an “inadvertent mistake”.

Yeah, right.

If that is the case, why were Mr Turner and Green candidate Sarah Walpole only missed off the papers for people who registered to vote after April 1? Doesn’t that imply that somebody removed their names deliberately?

Hull City Council had better check every single ballot paper it is preparing for election day, to prevent any further “inadvertent mistake”. Mr Turner was elected with a majority of more than 8,000, so the potential loss of 480 votes was unlikely to affect him. The loss of who-knows-how-many votes on the day might be a different matter!

Mr Turner told the BBC the mistake was “concerning” because people were “being denied the right to vote and take part in the democratic process”.

He added: “I have had calls from people in East Hull who are going on holiday this week and are angry that they are unable to vote. I have asked Hull City Council to urgently look into the matter and review their processes surrounding sending out ballot papers.”

The campaign is moving from desperation into criminality now, it seems. This Writer does not believe for one moment that those ballot papers were altered by “mistake”.

Expect further incidents like that in the last days of the campaign – and we can be sure plenty of last-minute voters will be locked out of their polling stations again, on the stroke of 10pm, just like last time. This gives Conservative candidates an edge over others because Tory voters are whipped into voting as early as possible.

In other news, it seems more than 70,000 ballot papers destined for Hastings and Rye, in East Sussex, were stolen along with the van that was transporting them there. Hastings Borough Council says it is putting measures in place to ensure that none of the stolen papers can be used, and we are being asked to believe that the loss of the papers was incidental to the theft of the van.

Yeah, right. But opportunism is a wonderful thing. Let’s see what happens there.

Both these events could lead to electoral fraud, which is a crime. Vox Political readers are urged to be alert for any possible “inadvertent mistake” in your own constituency and report anything suspicious to the Returning Officer (usually your local council’s chief executive) and to the police.

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  1. thomassutcliffe April 30, 2015 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Both incidents you mention do indeed look exceedingly bad. In terms of the Hull story it is quite obvious that someone deliberately altered those ballot papers to deprive postal voters of the opportunity to vote Green or Labour.

    • sibrydionmawr April 30, 2015 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Strikes me that it must have been deliberate. Why on earth did it only affect those registering for a postal vote after April 1st? Surely the orginal electronic file that gets sent to the printers to produce the voting forms is kept securely in some sort of archived (and hopefully encrypted) form?

  2. reecemjones April 30, 2015 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for reporting this. I can confirm this has happened for the constituency of Hereford and South Herefordshire. My postal vote paper only mentions that the Conservative Party, It’s our County and the Lib Dems as standing for it.

    Yet when I check out the actual candidates running…

  3. Andy April 30, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Why were only Turner and Walpole missed off? Probably with the names being listed in alphabetical order on the ballot paper they would have been the bottom two names on ıt and the printer overlooked them when setting up to run off additiıonal ballots to cover the last minute postal registrations.

    Have not the Electoral Commission taken steps in order to, hopefully, avoid the difficulties of late attenders at the polling stations?
    It would seem prudent that if the suggestion that unfortunate delays and queues are beneficial to one party simply because they are better organised in gettting out their vote it is a lesson for the other parties should have taken note of.

    I think the police have confirmed that it was believed there is nothıng to link the theft of the van with the contents.

    All voters going to polling stations are recommended to take their polling card (not essentıal, however),and also make sure that the ballot paper issued carries the required authenticity perforation.

    • Mike Sivier April 30, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

      I’ve covered your first point on Facebook and will recap here: It seems likely that, if the print was enlarged too much, one or two names might have run on to a second page. The printer should have checked to ensure that this would not happen, though. My opinion is that this explanation offers plausible deniability to the perpetrator but does not rule out foul play.

      Regarding the Electoral Commission, I believe that is correct – but we’ll have to see what happens. Your remark about the Tories being better at getting its vote out is relevant but the Tory vote includes a very large number of pensioners and the independently wealthy, who are free during the day, while other parties have their core support among working people who must wait until their shift ends before they can vote.

      I believe I mentioned that the contents of the van were believed to be incidental to the theft – believed. In any case, opportunism is a common trait of the criminal mind, so the possibility of these papers appearing at a polling station in Hastings and Rye cannot be ruled out. If this happens, it will be because people have taken extra ballot papers into the polling station with them – along with their polling card.

      • Andy April 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm - Reply

        I agree that it should have been spotted during the proof reading – it may have been necessary to use another printing or simply reset the typeface or, as only 480 were ,nvolved not position it properly in the photocopier, but sorry foul play? – it is the returning officer who controls the conducting of the election, nothing to do with the parties.once the nomination papers are accepted. I have not seen any reasons for the Hereford situation; no doubt reecemjones wıll come forth wıth the returnıng offıcer’s explanatıon ın due course…

        I take it that no Labour supporter ever becomes a pensioner old or is wealthy and no Conservative supporter is also a core worker and with fifteen hours in which to cast one’s vote – it use to be less – I don’t buy that and neıther, ıt seems, would The Guardian newspaper which is suggesting that the result all hangs on getting the vote out and that actually favours Labour – it says!.

        If these ballot papers appear in Hastings and Rye then they will not have the perforation authenticity and, especially given the publicity, no doubt be discounted. I would anticipate that the replacement papers will have on them a means of identifying they are were the genuine replacement ones.

        • Mike Sivier April 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm - Reply

          Don’t be silly. The returning officer does not physically carry out the printing of ballot papers. That is delegated to a contractor who may perfectly easily be tempted, let’s call it, to make a “mistake”.

          Your second-paragraph comments are equally silly. If you know your politics, you’ll know perfectly well that the majority of people in both those demographic groups support the Conservatives. You’re just nit-picking here. Working people have any number of things to do once they get home, and The Guardian can say what it likes; experience shows that it is harder to get out the vote than that paper – or you – are suggesting.

          As far as Hastings and Rye is concerned, I certainly hope you are right. But then, I recall a certain referendum vote north of the border in which claims were made about dodgy ballot papers being counted, so who knows?

          • Andy April 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm

            Yes, you are right I am being sılly – it is not the returning Officer it is the Electoral Registration Officer and placing the order with the contractor does not relieve them of the responsibility for checking. Maybe an opportunity for a”mistake” affecting 480 ballot papers and no indication as to who they are being posted to or which way that person might vote or that there might not be a complaint…oh, come on Mike…and, ıf the prınter had completed hıs contract and embarked on another project photocoptıng a blank would take less than half an hour!

            I do know my politics having been involved in around a dozen elections,including officiating at the count but you are right I am being silly – as someone, who for forty years had an eleven hour working day (includıng travel) and got home just after eight at night and ran my own house with other things to do I still made sure that on one day every five years I recorded my vote in good time, so what would I know?. I am not nit picking – you raised the issue, not me. Stop looking for excuses for apathy.

            I am not saying that opportunities for attemptıng fraud do not exist. It is in the interests of democracy for anyone who believes there ıs good reason to doubt fairness of the process to voice it to the appropriate body.

            Hastings and Rye where it is in the spotlight is very dıfferent from the unproven counting dodgy ballot papers claims in Scotland.

          • Mike Sivier April 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            I’m not letting those people who don’t get round to voting off the hook – quite the opposite, it annoys me very much – but neither should you let whoever printed those ballot papers off the hook either.
            It seems to me that there are circumstances in which you will do anything to find fault in another person’s reasoning, and circumstances in which you will do anything not to analyse what’s going on. Odd, that.

          • Andy April 30, 2015 at 5:47 pm

            Who said anything about letting anybody off the hook?

            Where did I say don’t investigate the circumstances of these reported happenings?

            But, havıng analysed the limited information available I unlike some comments I make no allegations of guilt (veiled or otherwise) and simply highlight the responsibilitıes of the Electoral Registrations Officer.

    • Daniel April 30, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

      That doesn’t explain how they were missed off in the Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency though, as per reecemjones’ comment above! The Labour candidate, Anna Coda, would be alphabetically at the top of the list, but Reece noted that only Conservative (Jesse Norman), Its our County (can’t find the candidate on the link) and Lib Dems (Lucy Hurds) available!

      Interestingly, this is a marginal seat, with LD’s polling just 5% behind the Conservatives, I’d imagine many of those LD votes may move to another party – could the omission be a move to try and limit this? *Twilight zone music* :)

  4. NMac April 30, 2015 at 11:19 am - Reply

    In respect of the candidates missed off the ballot papers, I find it very difficult to believe that this was “accidental”. The pre-print edit process should have easily spotted such a glaring error. That needs to be fully investigated.

  5. hugosmum70 April 30, 2015 at 11:21 am - Reply

    none of this is surprising. ive long thought that the Tories didn’t get in on merit last time. but my thoughts stuck at things like back handers back then… after seeing/reading/hearing of the atrocities perpetrated by the coalition over the past 5 years, i would not put anything past them now. dirty tricks learned at Eton. and nothing ever done in their lives to teach them any different. all i can say is if they do get in this time, time for the UN to step in before theyve chance to bring in their so called EU referendum etc and bring in their own human rights laws which will not help normal people . we know that.

    • sibrydionmawr April 30, 2015 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      I think that it might require sterner stuff than UN (in)action. It needs the people of the UK to act in concert on the fundamentals. A Labour minority government propped up on a case by case basis by the smaller parties seems to be the best we can hope for. An overall majority for either of the main two parties will probably just result in more of the same, with Labour perhaps trying to con us that it is neo-liberalism with a human face. Or, more likely, Labour would try and convince us that they aren’t part of the neo-liberal project. They may not be Blairite any more, if we are to believe Mike, but they still aren’t free of the neo-liberalism that has poisoned our society for the past thirty-six years.

      • hugosmum70 April 30, 2015 at 6:06 pm - Reply

        no and they wont ever be free while ever people keep saying these things.Mike is not on his own in believing this time round we have a gem in Milliband. i and loads of others i know, all believe he will deliver a much fairer Britain. lets face it, he can hardly do worse can he? but if the conservatives are to be allowed to get away with the dirty tricks they have been and still are pulling,then they will be back in with hundreds of thousands of ill, disabled, unemployed,pensioners and low paid workers suffering even more than they have in the past 5 years thanks to them blagging their way back into Westminster. I’m getting on, so possibly wont see much of it. they’ll make sure of that but i have 2 adult kids and grandkids who will suffer under that evil lot. thats why i have to do all i can to get them out n labour in b4 i leave this God-forsaken-hell hole. you dont have to be a politician or have worked with them, in whatever capacity,even if it is counting votes at elections to understand one thing. you dont vote for labour, we are up s**t creek without a paddle. to try and make it so its a coalition of labour, greens, SNP etc. (please dont include UKRAP in that. they are still conservatives) is taking a chance. the smaller parties may not WANT to be in with labour. or labour may have reservations about them. last thing we need is a govt where one party in a coalition is working against the main party of that coalition.

  6. LeonC April 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I hope there will be extra security and counting measures at their polling stations in light of this, and even a rep from the electoral commission

    • Andy April 30, 2015 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Ballot papers issued at the polling station should be stamped in the presence of the individual with an authenticity perforation. When the sealed ballot box is opened at the count any that do not have this marking are normally excluded. I anticipate that in constituencies like Rye, Hull and Hereford close attention will be paid to this aspect.

      I doubt if the Electoral Commission has sufficient staff to have a rep in each polling station in one constituency let alone nationally!

  7. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) April 30, 2015 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Have any Cons been left off anywhere?

  8. Shaun Thomas April 30, 2015 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Andy, you are no doubt right about in assuming that the Electoral Commission has insufficient staff to insure a fair and proper electoral process- after all the Tories have done every thing else to insure the rich have their way at the expense of the little people (or as those from Eton are apt to say in private – the plebs).

    • Andy May 1, 2015 at 8:20 am - Reply

      The Electoral Commission is an independent body and is not accountable to the government or a political party but to parliament itself. There is an extensive website which gives details of its far ranging responsibilities.
      The appointment and role of the Returning Offıcer…sorry I made a slight error in an earlier posting, the returning officer and the Electoral Registrations Officer are not necessarily the same individual – are also detailed
      The total number of staff employed by the Commission is less than 200.
      Do you not think, Shaun, that your comment is made more from prejudice than from knowledge and understanding?

  9. Thomas May 1, 2015 at 1:55 am - Reply

    Whilst it is certainly possible that the theft is random and the voting papers were a mess up, it is certainly equally possible that elements within the Conservative Party are trying to cheat their way into power. If they get another five years there won’t be any NHS or social housing left by 2020.

  10. concernedkev May 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    changing the method of registration from householder to individual responsibility has sown some confusion. The grammar and spelling on my wife’s postal vote left a lot to be desired. It makes you wonder where the printing was done???

  11. ken anderson May 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    after reading this it makes me wonder where those ballot papers from the van are going to land up considering that there was a huge suspicion in Scotland of the ballot papers being interfered with in the referendum last year don’t forget all the two constituencies are doing to safeguard their voters is to issue different coloured papers that will work for them but those others papers that were stolen could land up anywhere else without anyone knowing just a thought

    • Mike Sivier May 2, 2015 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      That wouldn’t do anybody any good – the papers have the names of the Hastings candidates. It’s just one constituency, by the way.

  12. Thomas May 3, 2015 at 2:19 am - Reply

    It would suit the Conservatives for the SNP to win anyway, so that it can weaken Labour. And if Scotland does one day get independence, it would be Labour who lost 50+ seats permanently, and not the Conservatives. If anything, the Conservatives would want to rig the Scottish election to make *more* seats go SNP, not less. The Tories stand to lose 2 seats, the Lib Dems up to 11, and Labour up to 31. And the Tories have turned on their allies and want to take as many seats from them as possible, so I doubt they would cheat to help the Lib Dems. They want the Lib Dems to be withered so they can rule alone if possible.

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