Hundreds of voters in Cheshire West and Chester are still awaiting their postal votes, less than a week before the General Election.
Kerron Harvey, of Frodsham, has been a postal voter for many years and was expecting her ballot papers to arrive by post soon after April 17, as promised on her original letter.
Speaking to the Chronicle today, Friday, May 1, she had still not received her ballot papers.
She said: “I live in a small community and I knew that some of my neighbours had received their votes. I kept checking my mail box but nothing had arrived by April 23 so I rang the council to express my concern.
“I was told that a second batch was going out on April 24 and I could expect it shortly. I asked if mine was in the second batch but they were unable to confirm that.”
Kerron left Frodsham on April 27 for a holiday, leaving instructions with a neighbour to check her mail box and, if it arrived, post it on to her.
Before she left she contacted the council again. She was offered a proxy vote, whereby someone can go to the polling station to cast her vote for her, but she said she was unhappy to do that as it is a “secret ballot” adding: “I don’t wish to share with anyone what I vote.”
She asked if the council could send her a reissued ballot paper to a different address but was told that was not possible, although a follow-up call to a different telephone number has elicited a more positive response.
She added: “I find it exceedingly bizarre that with less than seven clear days before the election, I still haven’t received my vote. I am going to be disenfranchised. I am absolutely livid.”
“Is there no one with enough imagination or intelligence to work out that there is a Bank Holiday before the election and that some of these votes will not get there.”
Last week, the council admitted more than 1,000 borough council ballot papers had to be re-issued to postal voters in Frodsham and Chester’s Garden Quarter because of some missing political party emblems on the original documents.
Matt tweeted: “I hope the candidates I’ve voted for appreciate the 4 visits to council HQ I’ve had to make to sort postal vote ;) #effort”
Matt, artistic director of Theatre in the Quarter in the city, needed a postal vote as he is working in Athens, the birthplace of democracy.
He said: "It could have been very easy not to bother, but when travelling to a theatre project about democracy, in Athens, and with the thought of women under horses, I persevered."
The council responds
A spokesperson for Cheshire West and Chester Council has laid the blame for the delay on the printers.
Senior media relations manager Ian Callister said: “The London-based printers were scheduled to receive the second batch of 2,500 postal votes on April 24 to be received by April 27.
“The printers, who are among a small group of companies which are capable of dealing with volumes of this nature, informed us they would not be able to meet that delivery because of the sheer volume of work they had nationally.
“They were sent out on the evening of April 27.”
Mr Callister explained the authority has been contacted by more than 200 people who have failed to receive their postal votes which led to them being reissued but he stressed some of those actually did end up receiving their original papers the following day.
He also pointed out that as soon as a postal vote is reissued, the original became invalid and should not be used.
“We have said from the start that anyone who does not receive their postal vote by April 30 should ring the helpline on 0300 123 7045.
“We have informed all the election candidates and their electoral agents.”
Mr Callister - - who said the authority had issued a total of 34,915 postal votes - was unable to say whether the council would be taking any action against the printers bearing in mind this has been the second issue during the 2015 campaign.
CWaC also encountered problems with postal votes during the previous General Election in 2010 when 157 were not processed in time and some polling stations were supplied with an out-of-date electoral register.
A review was subsequently held into election procedures in the Chester constituency.
Last month, The Chronicle reported that chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council Steve Robinson will receive about £40,000 in his role as returning officer to run the general, borough and parish elections in 2015. However, Mr Robinson has decided to appoint four deputies and two deputies (limited powers) who would also be funded from his fee.
The council's response to a Freedom of Information request by The Chronicle, asking if there were any penalties or deductions made or bonuses paid with respect to the returning officer or other electoral staff based on performance, was: "There is no provision to make deductions or to pay bonuses based on performance."
Have you been affected by delays in receiving your postal vote? If so, contact The Chronicle by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.