Thursday 24 August 2017

Hundreds of students turned away from polling booths for incorrect registration

Some students were turned away from polling stations despite having valid polling cards.

By Peter Cary

Hundreds of voters have been beset by registration and postal vote problems, it has emerged.

Students at Keele University and postal voters in Newcastle-Under-Lyme are among those who have been affected by a range of issues, including being turned away from polling stations despite having polling cards with them at the time.

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In some cases, a number of others who said they registered to vote by the deadline were turned away for not having provided extra information required to confirm their registration.

Paul Farrelly, the Labour candidate for the marginal seat of Newcastle-Under-Lyme since 2001, has been “working tirelessly” to help resolve the issues, according to his campaign team.

Keele University Biomedical sciences undergraduate, Andrew Niblett, 18, said in his group of five friends who applied to vote in the Newcastle-Under-Lyme area, just one had been correctly registered.

He said: “I phoned up the electoral office who said it was because I didn’t provide ID when I was prompted, but the thing is I was never prompted to provide ID and also one of my friends, who was prompted, provided ID and it got verified and they still got turned away.”

Niblett said despite complaining to the staff at the polling station that he had not received prompts, he was told: “Next time just check your mail and make sure you go through the process again.”

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said they had been in contact with electoral officers in Newcastle-Under-Lyme about what students should do to cast their vote by the 10pm deadline.

The chairman of Keele Student Union Council, Tom Snape, 21, said up to 100 students have been in touch about problems so far.

A spokesman for Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council said those affected by out-of-date printed electoral lists at polling stations had been able to vote after polling station staff phoned council offices to verify they were on the register.

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However, those affected by other issues had little option at such a late stage in the process.

“Where people haven’t completed the online process, it’s unfortunate, but if they haven’t completed the process they can’t be registered to vote.”

He added: “We’ve had quite a few people claiming that they’ve not had postal votes but when we’ve looked into it that just hasn’t been the case either.”

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There were also problems in other parts of the country, including Guildford, where hundreds of replacement postal votes were issued after complaints residents had not received them.

A spokeswoman for Guildford Council said 276 replacement postal votes had been sent out in the last week.

Press Association

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