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Delays to postal vote delivery urgently investigated, says minister

02 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Kevin Hollinrake has criticised Royal Mail

Delays to people receiving their postal votes are being urgently investigated, a minister has said as time runs out to fix the problem two days before the General Election.

Kevin Hollinrake has criticised Royal Mail for failing to deliver ballot packs to voters in some constituencies ahead of polling day on Thursday.

Appearing on Tuesday’s morning broadcast round, health minister Maria Caulfield said Mr Hollinrake, the postal affairs minister, is in “direct contact” with the service as it scrambles to resolve the issues.

“Kevin is taking this very seriously,” she told Sky News.

“Kevin is investigating this urgently. I know there’s extra resources going into this to try and do a sweep of all the sorting offices and make sure they’re out there.

“If people have only just received their postal vote, they can take it to their polling station on election day and it will still be counted.”

Polls

Royal Mail will be conducting sweeps of their delivery system on polling day to make sure any ballot packs still in the postal system are identified and passed to returning officers ahead of polls closing, the UK Government has said.

It comes after Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney warned some Scots could be “disenfranchised” if their postal votes cannot be filled out and returned on time.

Some voters north of the border have reported still not having received their ballots, and many have now left for a holiday overseas.

The electoral watchdog has said it recognises the pressures on the postal voting system due to the holiday season and will look into its administration after this election.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association called for a review of the already “overburdened” system put under extra pressure by an “unprecedented increase” in people voting by post.

On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Rishi Sunak is not concerned that some people could be disenfranchised by the issues.

“We’re working closely with the Electoral Commission, returning officers, Royal Mail and the print suppliers to support the resolution of these issues,” he told journalists.

Mr Hollinrake criticised Royal Mail for failing to anticipate the demand over summer, telling the Telegraph: “There’s a resourcing issue. They have recruited extra people and I welcome that but they’ve got to make sure they’ve got the right number of people to deliver the mail at busy times like this.

“It’s not acceptable it’s sat in sorting offices. It needs to be delivered to people’s houses. They need to put more people on to do that.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Tens of thousands of postal votes were delivered over the weekend. We know local authorities and Royal Mail are working to get the final ones out as soon as possible.

“As is the case at all elections, given the electoral timetable, there is a short window of time for administrators to prepare and dispatch postal votes.

“Anyone who hasn’t yet received their postal ballot pack should request a replacement from their local authority. Voters have the option to hand their postal pack to their polling station on polling day if they are concerned about posting it.

“They can also ask someone to hand their ballot pack in on their behalf. Voters can hand in a maximum of five postal ballots in addition to their own, and will be required to complete a form at the polling station when doing so.

“We recognise the pressures on the postal voting system due to the holiday season. We are continuing to provide advice and guidance to electoral services teams to support them with the postal voting process.

“Following the election, we will undertake research with voters and electoral administrators to understand their experiences at this poll. The administration of postal voting is one of the areas we will look at.”

According to the regulator, a voter can only apply for an emergency proxy if something unexpected prevents them from voting, such as a medical emergency, being away for work, or a lost or stolen voter ID.

Local councils are responsible for sending postal ballot forms to voters.

Completed postal votes must have reached councils by 10pm on polling day.


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Bob Sinclair
Bob Sinclair
20 days ago

Evidence, if it were needed, that the unbridled free market isn’t compatible with democracy.

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