Response from Local Council

Here is the response I received from our local council today about the spoilt ballot papers.

***

Thank you for your e-mail of 10 May. I am very sorry that you were unhappy with the arrangements in place to help you vote, although I am confident on the basis both of what you say in your correspondence and what I have been told by the Presiding Officer that your vote and that of your partner will in fact have been perfectly valid and will have been counted. It would not make any difference it they were marked in the middle of the ballot paper rather than in the boxes on the right hand side, so long as the votes were marked clearly on the line of the candidate you wanted to vote for as you describe.

I have, as you requested, looked into this matter and I have contacted the Presiding Officer at your polling station. He is a very experienced and conscientious member of staff who has been the Presiding Officer at this location for a number of elections now. I can confirm that, in common with all of our elections staff, he was fully trained in the use of the template and I am pleased that you were in fact able to use it to vote on this occasion. The Presiding Officer has confirmed to me that the braille flap was correctly placed against the appropriate part of the ballot paper and that you can therefore be reassured that your vote was marked for the candidate of your choice.

***

I don’t know how he can know this for sure. we both know that our templates weren’t aligned with the right hand side of the paper so they weren’t lined up with the boxes, so how can we know if they were properly aligned vertically. However, it is our word against theirs and they won’t believe us.

However, we can state categorically that the presiding officer did not know that the templates had a self adhesive back. We can also prove categorically that the template wasn’t cut down to size to fit our ballot paper, both of which are stated on the instructions. this makes their stance a bit less credible.

My interview on In Touch wasn’t aired last night unfortunately as David Cameron chose that time to return to Downing Street as newly sworn in prime Minister! However, it will be on the programme next week I believe. I’m still waiting for the article to appear in the Nottingham evening Post.

Finally, the next step will be for me to get hold of a template and reply to the council using the instructions given with the template as pointers.

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About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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3 Responses to Response from Local Council

  1. will hopefully be listening
    hi mel, will hopefully be listening to in touch next week, was rather disappointed, cameron certainly picks his times. hugs, good luck with the voting thing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Spoilt Ballot Paper
    Hi. I know of someone else who didn’t get their vote filled in properly. It’s a disgrace in this day and age, and as usual, you’re wrong and they’re right. When I voted I was a little ticked off at the amount of time it took them to prepare my ballot paper but when I asked why it was taking so long, I was informed that they were cutting the template.so I know now that my vote was cast properly. I also know that my template and arrows were aligned with the righthand edge of the paper so either yours were right and mine wasn’t. I’ll be listening to In Touch next week and am keen to hear their response on this.
    Kerry Painter
    Independent Senior Executive
    http://www.kerrypainter.co.uk

  3. fleurette67 says:

    Good on ya for pursuing this!
    Hi Mel! Having read the message from the council which you copied and pasted into this here entry, plus your comments below it, it’s clear that the council doesn’t really know what they’re talking about: they claim the presiding officer knew how the template should be used, but, judging from your experience, he plainly didn’t. You’re quite right to write back and clarify the situation from your point of view, and to continue publicising problems suchas this. Talking of which, I’ll miss In Touch next Tuesday because it’s broadcast right in the middle of my choir practice, but I’ll make sure I listen to the podcast afterwards. Here’s hoping that, the more publicity you and others give to bad practice when it comes to accessible independent voting for blind people in the UK, the more the authorities will be ready to pull their fingers out, train their presiding officers better, and make it possible for blind people to vote with as little help as possible in future elections.

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