Polls in Chaos: Keele Students Left Without Vote due to ‘Clerical Errors’
‘Hundreds’ of potential voters have been turned away in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
A large number of students have been unable to vote today due to administrative errors by the Newcastle-Under-Lyme council. Voters turned up to polling stations across the constituency to find themselves unable to vote, being told that they were not on the register.
There were also a large number of people who were unable to register their votes, as postal and proxy votes were both lost, or never even issued to the would-be voters.
Solomon Gibson, a Music Technology student at Keele said, “As well as individuals finding themselves not on the register despite applying in time, I spoke to vulnerable and elderly people who hadn’t received a postal vote. Some were finding it difficult to get out to vote due to mobility issues and issues with postal votes may have meant people have lost out on their vote.”
Tom Snape, incoming Union Development and Democracy officer for KeeleSU told KUBE this evening that Keele campus seemed to have been using out of date lists of registered voters for a lot of the day so people who are registered and even had polling cards couldn’t vote. According to Tom, the council’s new team that was put together to deal with voter registration was unable to effectively deal with it. Voters were left off the register according to the council for reasons like, their applications not being complete, or needing to provide ID which they hadn’t done. However, the council told voters that if they needed any more information they would let them know.
Paul Farrelly, Labour candidate for the constituency commented saying, “The electoral services department here in Newcastle is a shambles and there is chaos, which is denying people votes on a scale unprecedented in my 30 years fighting and organising elections. We have spent the past week firefighting over scores of postal votes, which have not arrived and we not only have lots of registration applications that have not been processed but people – including students – being turned away when they are indeed registered.”
“Each passing hour is not only spoiling election day, but just adding to the issues for complaint, which I will be referring tomorrow to the Electoral Commission and other bodies for an independent, outside investigation. The reality is that electoral services in Newcastle have been all over the place since a licensing fiasco led to the departure of good, experienced staff last summer.”
Labour hold this seat by a small majority, and so every single vote counts, winning by less than 700 votes in 2015. With Keele University being here, and students being particularly in favour of Labour, it is clear to see why those affected are so angry at the unacceptable levels of error that have occurred here.
In regards to ‘old’ registers being used at polling stations, especially at Keele, Mr. Farrelly pointed out on his Facebook page that up-to-date registers had been reissued to polling stations across the constituency, and mentioned Keele by name. However KUBE can exclusively reveal that polling clerks claimed this was untrue, saying to student Josh Wheeler: “We’ve had no new lists, that’s what you call fake news.”
It’s unclear what the current situation is, and student Ele Fisher says that ” I think the election results shouldn’t go ahead until it’s been sorted. It’s undemocratic that registered voters have had a democratic right taken from them.”
If you have been affected by this, please follow this link and fill in the form to let us know why you were unable to vote: https://goo.gl/forms/NLLGLZMCYbiARsDj1
Thanks also to Dimitri Gongas, for supplying us with information of his experiences today. We reached out to NUL council but they are yet to comment. This story is still developing and we will update it whenever we have more info as to the outcome. Until then, the dramometer is set at 100.