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Postal Voting query by local resident

2nd May 2016 @ 6:06am – by Webteam
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A local resident has raised an interesting point about the voting instructions with the Council's electoral services team which is captured in this exchange of emails. William Biggar wrote originally saying:

Postal voting- confusing information
"I have recently completed a Postal Vote form for the Police and Crime Commissioner and found the printed instructions very confusing.
I do not have a second choice candidate and rather than risk spoiling my vote, I telephoned your helpline to clarify this. The information your colleague gave was that it is not necessary to state a second choice but that I could place the same candidate as my first and second choice.
However, when reading the printed instructions once again, I noted that it states that "Your first and second choices should be different"! Does this mean that they must be different?
All in all the instructions should be reviewed as a matter of urgency as in their present form, they could lead to a number of ballot papers being void.
Your comments would be appreciated."

The response from the electoral services team was as follows:
"Thank you for your e-mail, I would like to apologise for any confusion caused by the information relayed to yourself.
It is not a requirement that an elector make a second choice on their ballot paper, they should leave this column blank.
It is not required that you mark the second column with the same choice as your first column. The vote in the first column only would be counted.
Some electors have chosen to vote in the second column with the same candidate as the first, some have chosen to put a line through the column and some have
opted to leave it blank.
I hope this explains the situation, but should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me."
Sandra Hobbs (AEA Cert)
Senior Electoral Services Officer
Electoral Services Department
Cheshire East Borough Council

William Biggar replied:

"In reply, I must clarify that the information I found initially confusing was not "relayed" to me, it was actually contained in the instruction sections on the printed Postal Voting paper.
The actual instructions clearly state:
"Vote by putting a cross (X) in the box-
in column 1 next to your first choice candidate.
in column 2 next to your second choice candidate.
Your first and second choices should be different.
Do not mark the ballot paper in any other way or your vote may not count"
The above is contrary to the information you have supplied and I would respectfully suggest that an urgent review is made of the wording of this paper to avoid further confusion and thus saving time for your telephone personnel.
I trust that you will find this helpful"

The response:

"Thank you for your further e-mail. The wording is prescribed in legislation and cannot be amended by Cheshire East Council. If you would like to raise this matter with the Electoral Commission they will review your complaint and respond accordingly."

Sandra Hobbs added: "I have already raised this matter with the Electoral Commission, but felt that it would add some weight to the matter for electors to write too."

William Biggar has since said that he will take this up with Electoral Commission . It will be interesting to see if a local resident does indeed achieve a change in the official voting instructions nationwide.

This article is from our news archive. As a result pictures or videos originally associated with it may have been removed and some of the content may no longer be accurate or relevant.

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