Let’s consider this Labour candidate’s win on a recount after ‘bundle of votes found under Conservative pile’

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Two thoughts occur:

Firstly, when This Writer was out on the doorstep in the run-up to the Welsh Assembly elections, a colleague met a gentleman in Rhayader who was adamant that the counting process was a stitch-up and that the votes of many people in his town had been – shall we say mislaid? – “mislaid” at a previous count.

This was one of the principle issues raised by ‘No’ campaigners in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, as well. While investigators vowed there was no truth to the allegation of vote-rigging, it suggested that the process may require more transparency.

Now this. I’d like to know exactly how Mr Enright’s missing votes were discovered. Then we might find out a little about how to prevent such abuses.

Secondly, on a happier note, isn’t it great that Witney – David Cameron’s home – has rejected the Conservatives and elected a Labour councillor? Doesn’t that tell us everything we need to know about the rotten Conservative government we have now?

Of course, the council ward is not to be confused with the constituency and we should all remember that Cameron’s seat is a safe Tory stronghold.

Or is it?

A Labour councillor who thought he had lost his seat has been re-elected after a bundle of votes was found under a pile for his Conservative rival.

Duncan Enright, a candidate for a Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, has described his relief following the discovery. He tweeted throughout the experience and initially announced he had lost.

He posted: “Lost by 70 votes or so. Thanks for the opportunity to serve. The fight goes on.” He soon after followed up by announcing: “Miscount in Witney East, result now in, I win by 70! Thank you! Bunde of my votes under a Tory pile! Delighted! Thanks Witney!”

Source: Local elections 2016: Labour candidate wins on recount after ‘bundle of votes found under Conservative pile’ | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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12 thoughts on “Let’s consider this Labour candidate’s win on a recount after ‘bundle of votes found under Conservative pile’

  1. John

    I have stood for election as a local councillor on a number of occasions and served as an elected councillor for 4 years in the late 1990s.
    The people who carry out the count are local government officers whose conduct is legally regulated under various representation of the people acts.
    Anyone breaching any of the acts could be subjected to prosecution, with the attendant risk of a criminal record.
    The people carrying out the job of counting the ballot papers and bundling them are wholly disinterested in who wins or loses. They just want to carry out and complete the task – a rather boring one, let’s be honest – so they can go home afterwards.
    They do sometimes make mistakes, which is why provision exists within the law to have recounts if requested by the election agents of the different parties.
    I personally think that deliberate mis-counting never happens.
    It is far more likely to be an accidental mis-counting of ballot papers.
    It was suggested recently that the conduct of the 1975 EEC referendum was highly questionable as the possibility of ballot box “stuffing” could not be ruled out.
    However, that is on a different scale when compared to a local election or even parliamentary election count, where scrutiny by party representatives of the counting process is highly visible and present.
    Counts – I believe – are almost always carried out with scrupulous care by the professional local government officers who are legally obliged to conduct themselves in a thoroughly non-partisan manner.
    I am 100% sure that what happened in Witney was just a simple counting error.
    Anyway, the eventual result is very interesting, taking place – as it did – in the heart of Cameron’s own parliamentary constituency. Why was that not mentioned in any of the BBC coverage – that, surely, is the real question to be asking?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      What happens in a count, though?
      Ballot papers get taken out and verified, then they get sorted into votes for each candidate, then they get counted.
      So what were votes for a Labour candidate doing underneath a pile of votes for a Tory?
      Even if we accept that all people carrying out the count are utterly disinterested, that’s a huge mistake to make!

      1. NMac

        Not only a “huge mistake”, but, given the fact that it was a Labour candidate who was almost set to lose in Cameron’s constituency, an absolutely “vital mistake”..

  2. Phil Woodford

    To borrow the words of John McDonnell, I think it’s ‘put up or shut up’ when it comes to This Writer’s conspiracy theories. Assertion and innuendo is one thing. Facts are something else.

    Remember, the whole British electoral system is based on trust. I go to a polling station, don’t even need a polling card and just announce who I am. I am then given a pencil with which to mark my ballot. There is a strong argument for the system to be electronic in 2016.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If it actually happened, then it’s not a conspiracy theory.
      Cllr Enright’s experience actually happened.
      Please try to come back to reality, if only for the time it takes to write your comments.

  3. John

    Mistakes sometimes happen. We are all human and being human are capable of mistakes. As I understand it, a bundle – presumably of up to 100 ballot papers – was mistakenly added to the wrong pile. Fortunately, the Labour election agent on hand demanded a recount and the mistake was discovered and rectified. This is why agents have a legal right to demand recounts, i.e. to ensure absolute accuracy at the count. The Tories gross over-spending is definitely illegal – let’s see them fry over those practices and stop being distracted by minor flaws in the electoral system.

  4. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    “Put up and Shut up” is OK for the dissenters but this is quite different and it is obvious that a thorough investigation should take place. I also would like to know how these votes were discovered.

  5. skylarksara

    There are a lot of people allowed into a count and those who are familiar with the occasions walk around with great freedom. Perhaps there is a case for keeping all the candidates and their agents and other legitimate helpers at a greater physical distance from the counting tables and under greater and closer scrutiny.

  6. John

    Candidates, agents and other party representatives are allowed to observe – though not interfere – with the count. On occasions, the counters may consult with the observers, though this is relatively infrequent.
    Moving observers away from the actual counting process would diminish transparency of the count and probably raise many more questions than answers.
    There is an old saying “Bad cases make bad laws” and this is one of those cases.
    Basing changes in the law on a single or very few cases always results in poor laws.
    The Tories have already passed enough in the way of bad laws.
    Why give them an excuse to pass more?

Comments are closed.