Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Demand Inquiry over Lost Polling Cards

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tories Demand Inquiry over Lost Polling Cards

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel Northumberland Reporter

CONSERVATIVES in Northumberland are demanding an inquiry into how polling cards for last week's Euro elections were not sent to voters in a county town.

The Tories are angry that cards were not sent to around 400 people in the Kirkhill ward of Morpeth, and also at High Stanners in the town, ahead of last Thursday's European elections.

They claim they were contacted by people who wrongly believed they could not vote without the cards.

The Tories have claimed the turnout in the ward was just 19% - though the council dispute this figure.

They also say the party has strong support in the area and claim the failure to send out cards could have been crucial given that Tory MEP Martin Callanan lost his seat by just 2,500 votes.

Northumberland County Council blamed Royal Mail, while that organisation claimed it had delivered all polling cards given to it.

Dave Herne of Morpeth Conservatives, who was the county council candidate for the ward in 2013, said: "The reports that polling cards were not issued are very concerning.

"People in Kirkhill who always vote in elections will have been waiting for the cards wrongly, but not unreasonably assuming that a card is necessary to vote.

"The Conservative team heard from a number of people who thought they could not vote on the day and from the looks of it about 400 or so people may not have exercised their right as a result, perhaps more.

"We are very keen to understand how and why this happened.

"The Conservative party lost a seat in the European Elections by just 2,500 votes.

"Kirkhill has a history of voting Conservative and with increasing levels of support and the votes lost there would have made the result closer that much is certain.

"I will be writing to Northumberland County Council and taking advice from the Electoral Commission if necessary to help understand what has happened, and where else it happened in Northumberland.

"I would hate to think that the North East has been deprived of a fantastic MEP like Martin Callanan through errors by Northumberland County Council. …

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