Last-minute dash after postal votes mix-up in Rugby, Kenilworth and Southam

General Election.
General Election.

Frantic efforts were made over the bank holiday weekend to make sure around 1,300 people got their postal votes on time for today’s General Election.

And an investigation has been launched as to why the addresses in the Dunchurch and Thurlaston areas did not get them through the post.

People have fought for the vote and elections can be won and lost by a few votes

David Flavell

The addresses come under the large Kenilworth and Southam constituency.

In a letter with the ballot papers people were assured that they can take their completed ballot in the supplied envelopes to constituency polling stations in the Dunchurch area today (Thursday) if they had doubts that they would be delivered on time if posted.

Staff working for Warwick District Council delivered the letters well into Saturday evening to make sure people could vote.

Acting returning officer Chris Elliott, who is chief executive of Warwick District Council, apologised for the delay and any inconvenience .

He said an initial investigation showed it had been caused by a contractor not supplying the database details of the 1,300 voters to the printers for it to send the voting packs out.

Mr Elliott said: “We were told it had been done and the postal votes sent out. Warwick District Council did not know anything about it until people started complaining.

“We need to do a more detailed investigation into why voting papers did not get from our suppliers to Royal Mail.”

And he said people taking their postal votes to constituency polling stations would face no barriers, adding: “It’s not unusual for people to deliver their postal votes there.”

Mr Elliott said the council had reported the matter to the election watchdog, the Electoral Commission, and it is understood at least one person has complained to the commission about it.

One disgruntled voter was David Flavell, of Millers Close, Dunchurch, who said: “People have fought for the vote and elections can be won and lost by a few votes. We are urged to vote, then something like this happens. There should be a better system whereby problems like this are picked up earlier.”

In agreement was Claire Salmons, of Thurlaston, who said: “I am quite angry about this process, but not really for me – I’ll find a way of voting whatever, even if I have to drive to Leamington to deliver it. But the majority of people have postal votes because they are elderly, have mobility problems or are away at election time. Could it skew the result?

“When I phoned the council to say the postal votes had not arrived I was told it could not resend them until Friday May 1. But first class post can take two days, particularly in rural areas, and that’s without a bank holiday.”