Changes to postal votes in Rother

Editorial image
Editorial image

Improvements look set to be made to postal voting in Rother following a string of complaints during the general election.

At a cabinet meeting earlier this month councillors discussed a report into the system and what went wrong in May.

Members heard packs were lost and there was a lot of confusion from residents.

In total, 224 replacement packs were issued between April 30 and May 7, according to the report.

District council executive director of resources and returning officer Malcolm Johnston said: “There were some issues with postal votes in the recent elections, particularly around the timing of issuing voting packs and a small number of voters reporting they had not received their pack.

“One lesson we’ve learned from this is of the need to be more clear with residents as to when they can expect to receive their pack, so they can make an informed choice as to whether voting by post is the best method for them.

“In future, we will also be ensuring there is a clear audit trail in place which allows us to check when our printing contractor has handed over voting packs to the Royal Mail.

Richard Madge was one of those affected by the confusion. His vote never arrived, forcing him to vote in person the day before he went on holiday on May 1.

The Bexhillian said the situation was unacceptable and hoped it would be better next time.

The report recommendations included more communication about the timing of postal vote pack distribution, better communication with the printers and better audit trails to track the packs.

“This year’s elections were the most complex we’ve ever had to undertake, with the general election, district and parish council elections being held on the same day,” Mr Johnston said.

“To put it into context, just over 11,000 postal votes were issued, and the return rate was 85 per cent, which is very much in line with what we’d expect for a general election.”

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