Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Emergency Teams Set to Return Vote Forms

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Emergency Teams Set to Return Vote Forms

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Council workers are on standby to return invalid voting declaration forms to homes in Newcastle following election confusion in parts of the North East.

More than 3,000 votes have been returned in Newcastle so far and staff began checking declaration forms today.

People who have filled them in incorrectly will get a second chance before the polls close for the European and local elections on June 10.

Problems are expected because of the requirement that declarations of identity which accompany ballot papers need to be witnessed.

Up until noon on Tuesday, invalid declarations will be returned to voters by post, which is the Government requirement.

However, Newcastle City Council, which has 186,000 registered voters, intends to go further.

On Wednesday, the city's 26-strong team of neighbourhood rapid-response staff will hand-deliver invalid forms to people's homes. The onus is then on voters to return them to the Civic Centre.

On Thursday, polling day, a team of 30 council staff will telephone others whose declarations are incorrect.

Debbie Frost, the council's electoral services manager, said: "We're trying to ensure everybody has an opportunity to cast their vote."

Meanwhile, Sunderland City Council, which is the returning office for the European elections in the North East, revealed that 185,000 postal votes have already been returned across the region, which is nearly 10% of the total of 1.9 million.

Regional returning officer Ged Fitzgerald said the vote is building steadily each day and reminded people to sign their declaration form and get a witness.

About 14 million people in four regions, including the North East, are taking part in the postal ballot but the delivery of nearly 600,000 ballot packs on Tyneside was delayed because of problem at the printers.

Last year more than 6,000 votes were declared invalid in Newcastle because declarations were not signed ( and at that time there was no requirement for a witness. …

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