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UPDATE: Postal error leaves many without election poll cards
Updated 6:11pm Monday 19th May 2014 in News
A POSTAL blunder has led to a large number of people in Weymouth and Portland not receiving their polling cards for the forthcoming elections.
It is feared the error may affect the turnout at polling stations on Thursday because residents think they won’t be able to vote.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has assured residents this is not the case and they will be able to exercise their democratic right despite not being sent cards. The council blamed the error on the Royal Mail.
As well as the elections for the European Parliament, residents will elect a third of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council on Thursday. However, councillors will not be standing in Radipole, Westham West or Weymouth East.
The Echo has received reports of people not receiving polling cards in different areas of the borough and candidates have received complaints while out canvassing.
Dave Burchill from the Waterside Weymouth Community Forum, which co-ordinates projects in the Park District, said it was a concern.
He said residents should be made aware that the local polling station is the Park Centre in Chelmsford Street and that people don’t need their cards to vote. Polling stations are open from 7am-10pm.
Mr Burchill said: “I know where to go to vote and I know I can vote without my polling card but not everyone knows this.
“There also may be people who have just moved into the area who won’t know what to do.
“There’s quite a few people I’ve spoken too who haven’t received their cards.”
Pam Winsper, of Links Road, Westham, said: “I have been speaking to a few people and nobody has had their cards, and nobody knows that if you can still vote even if you don’t have one.
“I’m a bit confused by it really, and it won’t help people get out and vote.”
The local Labour Party is calling for an inquiry as it fears it will affect turnout.
Leader of the group on the council Colin Huckle said: “I am disappointed and I think once the election is over we will have to inquire what happened to the polling cards, because it is certainly a substantial area where they have not been delivered.”
Mayor Ray Banham is standing for the Lib Dems and said he hadn’t received a card either.
He said: “I have had a lot of reports when I have been campaigning and people coming up to me in the streets and complaining about it.
“What has happened before is that council staff delivered them to every door but this year they have been posted.”
UKIP candidate Francis Drake said: “People can go to the polling station, say who they are and vote, but a lot of people don’t realise that.”
Brian Heatley, from the Green Party, said it wasn’t an issue candidates had picked up on and he believes most people will realise they don’t need them to vote.
Local Tory group leader Mike Goodman said: “We are aware of it. It happens from time to time, we will have to wait and see what the outcome is at the election.”
Royal Mail: 'We are investigating'
RESIDENTS without polling cards can still vote. They just need to state their name and address at the polling station.
Borough council Head of Electoral and Member Services Sue Bonham-Lovett said: “Unfortunately Royal Mail failed to deliver poll cards to a large number Weymouth and Portland residents.
“Residents do not need their poll card to vote. As long as they are on the electoral roll they can go to their polling station on Thursday May 22 to vote.
“To check if you are on the electoral roll and to find out where your polling station is please contact the council’s electoral services on 01305 838299.”
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We are investigating this issue as a matter of urgency.”
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