Electors hoping to post their vote back to Cheshire West and Chester Council may have to consider travelling to their polling station on election day (Thursday, May 7) if they’ve still not received their postal voting package.
CWaC issued the advice to voters after admitting it had been contacted by almost 300 people concerned their postal vote had not arrived on time. Votes received after 10pm tomorrow will not count.
What to do if your postal vote has not arrived
The council is advising people they can get their postal vote re-issued, collect it from council HQ (it can be delivered to people with mobility problems) then take it along to their polling station or a collection point at a main council office tomorrow. However, this won’t be possible for many, including Chronicle reader Stuart Walsh, because he lives in Greece.
CWaC insists there are ‘no major issues’ but spokeswoman Rachel Ashley conceded: “We have been contacted by 284 people over postal votes which have failed to arrive – this amounts to 0.8% of the 34,000 postal votes issued.
“We have arranged several hundred re-issues to assist people who feared being disenfranchised but made it clear that there was likely to be a delivery issue with Royal Mail and that when their postal votes came it would only be the re-issued one that was valid.”
The council insists all issues have now been resolved but readers have this week contacted the Chronicle furious that they or loved ones may be denied their right to vote especially in marginal constituencies like Chester and Weaver Vale where every vote counts.
Debra Hayward wrote: “I am really angry about the chaos that seems to be CWAC’s handling of the postal voting situation. My son is away from home at university, he has applied for a postal vote and nothing has arrived.”
Stuart Walsh, who lives in Crete but is on the electoral roll for the Weaver Vale constituency where he used to live for over 30 years, collected his voting package late Thursday but due to the Greek Bank Holiday the earliest he could put it in the return post was May 4 – just three days before polling day.
He emailed: “My concern is that aside from potentially being denied my legal right to vote due to administrative incompetence, my vote should be cast in an extremely marginal constituency and could play a highly significant part.”
Amanda Fletcher requested a postal vote because of a holiday but had to make a special trip to HQ to pick up the package when it had not arrived in time, although the original did turn up at the 11th hour.
Amanda said: “Please can I ask you to encourage the council to explain why their procedures have fallen short and how they plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The council explains
CWaC is blaming a back-log at the printers for the problems. It has delivered well over 100 postal votes by hand to those who had short deadlines ahead of holidays or other urgent needs and used courier services to get postal votes to some people out of the area, including abroad.
Spokeswoman Mrs Ashley said: “We really do take all these steps not because there are any major problems, but because we believe everyone’s vote is important and we do all we can when any concerns are revealed. Cheshire West is working very hard and very diligently to deliver a series of fair and effective elections which are high integrity and fraud-free.”
The council has confirmed there will be a review of how the election was handled by the authority as a matter of routine. The Chronicle has also been informed of voters who have not received polling cards although people can still vote without a card as long as they are registered on the electoral roll.
For details visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or call 01244 977084.