Gosport postal votes in 'shambles' after 10,400 ballots printed incorrectly
POSTAL vote ballots sent out to residents in Gosport have been deemed to be invalid.
A total of 10,400 postal vote packs distributed by Gosport Borough Council cannot be counted following an error in their publication.
Since the ballot papers do not have political party logos on them, they are invalid and cannot be counted.
While the council scrambles to fix the error, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Peter Chegwyn has hit out at the ‘shambles’.
He said: ‘It's an absolute shambles - the worst I've seen in over 45 years of organising election campaigns.
‘There will be complete confusion among voters and the fear is that many won’t bother or understand the need to vote again in an election which they'll think they've already voted in.
‘I'm demanding a full inquiry into what’s gone wrong and why the mistake wasn’t noticed in time. It could have a serious effect on the outcome of the election.’
The ballot papers for the Hampshire County Council and police and crime commissioner elections will still be counted.
A new cream colour ballot paper will be distributed to residents replacing the incorrect grey papers that have been posted.
In an email to councillors, seen by The News, the returning officer Graeme Jesty confirmed these will be through letterboxes by April 27.
In a statement published by the council, he said: ‘Unfortunately, the printing error on the borough council ballot paper was not spotted during a final check.
‘I'm very sorry for this, and I apologise to postal voters for the error and the inconvenience.
‘I also apologise to the borough council and to candidates and their agents, all of whom were informed straight away.
‘The mistake is being put right and will not affect the integrity of the election.’
Leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Mark Hook, said council officers are working hard to rectify the situation.
He said: ‘It’s very unfortunate that an error has occurred – given the pandemic all political parties have been advocating the postal vote for this election.
‘What happened was the first draft of the ballots was refused because of this error; the second one was approved, but the first version was the one that was printed.
‘It was spotted yesterday afternoon and since then, half the people who received the ballots has been contacted by the council.’