Postal Votes

After opening the paper I read with great interest the Gazette’s article entitled ‘Postal Vote Blunder causes complaints’. The definition of blunder is:

Move blindly; stumble; make gross mistake. 

I firstly accept that on occasions we do make mistakes which we look to rectify quickly and in the way the legislation dictates. I am sure that having sent out over 30,000 postal votes a handful of residents do not get all the ballot papers they should, but it is only a handful.

The article suggests that 20 residents have complained. 20 out of 30,000 is a 0.066% error rate. Hardly a blunder – more of a blip, however annoying it may be for the 20 people affected.

I also accept that a few more people may not have received their postal vote even though we put them in the post. Royal Mail sometimes does not manage to deliver them and they get returned to us, with a perfectly good address on them, but normally after Election Day.

It is correct when it says that we receive large numbers of phone calls from residents about not receiving their parliamentary postal vote ballot paper. Although 100s of people tell us that the ballot paper does not give the names of David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg or Nigel Farage etc. Perhaps we are becoming more like a presidential election rather than our own parliamentary system.

I am not being defensive or suggesting we do not get it wrong, but out of 30,000 postal votes issued 20 feels more like a blip than a blunder – however, I realise a blip does not sound quite as catastrophic as a blunder.

Anyway, I now need to go and lie down ready for the 28 hour election day and count tomorrow.

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4 thoughts on “Postal Votes

  1. I read that article. It seems the story was created because one woman claimed there were ‘loads’ of other complaints herself.

    Not sure how that makes a story #lazy

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  2. It matters what dictionary you use.
    Blunder: a gross, stupid, or careless mistake

    The story says “More than 20 residents posted on our Facebook page”. So the figure of twenty is an underestimate. Those are just people posting on the newspaper’s Facebook page. A woman is quoted in the newspaper article as saying she phoned the council and it was the council who said “they had received lots of phone calls about it”.

    I don’t know what the true figure is for the number of people who did not receive their postal vote, but as the council’s chief executive, you’re ideally placed to find out the actual number and relate it on this blog.

    The figure of over 30,000 postal votes you cite seems very high (compared to other constituencies). Are you including the numbers for local elections as well? Unfortunately the council’s election results page does not give the number of postal votes cast in the parliamentary elections. It will be some time before the Electoral Commission site is updated with this year’s figures (including postal votes).

    Can you clarify how many postal votes went missing, whether these people were able to vote and if you were able to identify whether it was the council’s error, Royal Mail or some other party? Only then would it be possible to determine if this is a careless mistake (ie a blunder).

    To be fair, there have been greater problems with postal votes in several other constituencies. A couple sent out the wrong postal voting forms, some didn’t send all of them out and others managed to miss names off the form. So I don’t think Colchester Council is guilty of a gross mistake. But any voter disenfranchised is a voter too many. It would be unacceptable if even a few voters were unable to vote in person at a polling station, so it’s curious that it is seen as acceptable for a few people to be unable to vote by postal ballot. Had it been your postal ballot that had gone missing, would you have shrugged it off?

    I’m not a resident of the area. I only came across this article because I’m currently researching spoilt ballots in the General Election.

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