Friday, 27 November 2020

Postal ballots delayed

POSTAL ballots papers were delayed in being delivered to Henley and Watlington after a courier lorry broke down.

POSTAL ballots papers were delayed in being delivered to Henley and Watlington after a courier lorry broke down.

But returning officer David Buckle has played down any suggestion of a repeat of the problems at the 2011 local elections which were bugged by administrative problems.

The majority of postal vote papers for the South Oxfordshire District Council and parish council elections were sent out on time on Thursday last week, two weeks before polling day.

But the ballots for four wards, including 450 fpr Henley South and 200 for Watlington, were delayed as they were not being printed in Swindon with the others due to their size.

Mr Buckle, who is also chief executive of the district council, said the Swindon printer didn?t have a facility to print them but samples were sent there for checking before being sent to another printer. However, on Friday morning the van carrying the samples broke down so that there wasn?t time to process them and the other printer was closed over the weekend.

The papers were printed early this week and should all have been delivered by today (Friday).

Mr Buckle said: ?There?s no statutory date by which I have to issue postal votes ? the law is as soon as practical after nominations.?

Henley town clerk Mike Kennedy said he received a phone call from an angry resident.

He said: ?He complained that ? and these are his words ? the whole of the Henley South ward had not received any ballot papers for postal votes.

?The chap was clearly unimpressed by this. He was going away on Tuesday so he was worried he wouldn?t be able to vote.?

Mr Kennedy said he notified councillors in case they received a similar reaction when cavnvassing.

He added: ?I?m sure when there?s a wash-up at the end of the election we?ll see how things went.?

In 2011 problems with postal votes meant the count at Thame leisure centre took 16 hours to complete and staff had to work until after midnight.

Counting had to be halted so votes in the alternative referendum could be checked and ballot papers in several wards had to be recounted.

Other counts nearly ground to a halt because of confusion caused by different printers being used to produce the ballot papers.

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