back to article Citizens denied chance to vote in local-government IT cockup

Failures in local government IT systems have threatened the legitimacy of some of today's parliamentary elections by denying large numbers of citizens a chance to vote. The scandal so far appears to be concentrated around the constituencies within Hackney London Borough Council, where voters, in their hundreds, are being …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Interestingly in this case the excuses being trotted out don't appear to be directly blaming "the computer" or IT system in question as is usually the case.

      Perhaps we're making some progress after all?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        I fear, m'Lud, that the ink used in our official quills has faded.

        Or a mouse ate the papers.

        Or something.

  2. Lxbr

    Solid Labour seats

    Both Hackney North and Hackney South are pretty solid Labour seats, so unless ~10000 people are affected this won't affect the legitimacy of the results. It would be unfortunate if this sort of thing happens on a large scale in any of the more marginal seats, but I haven't heard any reports of that happening.

    1. Ian Bush

      Re: Solid Labour seats

      Oxford west and Abingdon? ~170 majority and postal ballots have gone missing

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Solid Labour seats

        "postal ballots have gone missing"

        more concerning (though probably from a voter stupidty point of view) was the figure I saw on a report last week that in the last general election something like 20% of votes were postal votes and something like 3% of those were invalidated due to people writing the wrong date in the date of birth section of the form ... and in case anyone takes umbrage at "voter stupidy" - I had a later last year saying my European election vote had been discarded as my of birth didn't match their records and I assume I forgot to write in my date of birth (as I don't think I've forgotten what it is!)

        I think the real issue with people not being able to vote is something that I also heard highlighted a few weeks ago - when people "registered" on line they were not putting themselves on the electoral roll but just applying to be put onto the electoral roll and they application would then have to be checked before they actually went on the roll. That said, my son "registered" pretty much on the deadline at his university address and despite getting no poll card was on the register when he went to the polling station today

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Solid Labour seats

        @Ian: And all those who should've had postal ballots and didn't were given opportunity to vote at several polling stations early.

      3. Lxbr

        Re: Solid Labour seats

        I was very worried when I saw that report, and if the Tory sitting MP hadn't increased her majority to 10000 I'm not sure what would have happened (as you say, those 'several hundred' ballots going missing were more than the majority in 2010). It seems I've gone from living in a high marginal to a fairly safe Tory seat (which historically, before Evan Harris won in 1997, Oxford West & Abingdon was for a long time).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solid Labour seats

      The solidity of the seats and the effect on the outcome are, to my mind, totally irrelevant. It is a major fuck-up for a council to deny people their right to vote by being so inept. Even one error is too many.

      1. Lxbr

        Re: Solid Labour seats

        I fully agree that it is unacceptable for people to be denied their right to vote. I think it should be a criminal matter (criminal negligence anyway) if this happens.

        However, the article mentioned that it "threatened the legitimacy" of the election - that simply isn't the case (in Hackney).

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Solid Labour seats

      Whether or not the missed votes affect the OUTCOME of the election has nothing to do with whether or not being unable to vote effects the LEGITIMACY of an election. I'm on the other side of the pond. I live in a state where my vote is never going to effect the outcome of the election because the opposition out numbers me 2 to 1. Still, if 5,000 legitimate voters on their side were unable to cast ballots in the election, it's legitimacy would be suspect.

  3. Spaceman Spiff

    This is how you "cook" an election. You disenfranchise those who might vote against you!

    1. James 51

      I was going to ask how long before we have Florida style purging of undesirables from the electoral register.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >purging of undesirables from the electoral register.

        20 years ago - if you weren't on the electoral roll you didn't pay poll tax.

        No representation without taxation

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Well, if Ukip have their way there will be no undesirables remaining...

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Well, Ukip have their way there will be no only undesirables remaining...

            Fixed if for you...

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              @Paul Crawford

              Yes, I was trying to look at things from Ukip's point of view, but then I had to go and bleach my brain.

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: No representation without taxation

          That part is, to me, fair enough.

          What was not fair was it was in effect a fixed fee, and not a progressive taxation based on overall income (including any benefits, etc).

          1. Kernel

            Re: No representation without taxation

            "What was not fair was it was in effect a fixed fee,"

            That, to me, seems to be the fair part of it - an individual's consumption of most public services doesn't change much as a function of their income, in fact you could argue that higher income earners probably use less of publicly provided goods eg., more likely to use a car than a bus.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: No representation without taxation

              By which logic only the unemployed and elderly should pay for social services

              1. P. Lee

                Re: No representation without taxation

                >By which logic only the unemployed and elderly should pay for social services

                Not at all. Social services are paid for out of income tax which is progressive. The poll tax (poll = "per head") community charge was for things like emptying your rubbish bin.

                Also, we need to find another word than "progressive" regarding taxation. It sounds inherently good, when it may not actually be appropriate. Paying for having your bin emptied is not part of social engineering and wealth redistribution since that isn't really a function of local government. Income-related tax is expensive to implement. A fixed figure, enough to cover expenses, which everyone has to pay, is cheap to collect (no assessment of income or property required), loophole-less, and provided a stable revenue stream for paying for particular services.

                Even "progressive" taxes are only an approximation and don't really reflect ability to pay. Its impossible to tax everyone "justly." Now we have a system of property-based taxation. That means you can be poor but if your neighbourhood goes up in value, you pay more tax, regardless of your income. Your only choice may be to sell up and move away.

                The UK poll-tax riots were a triumph of ideology over practicality. Mostly it was an excuse to riot by those who didn't like thatcher anyway. Those were the days when people actually had ideologies. I look at the riots caused by a local council tax, and a look at the lack of fuss over hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by Blair's adventurism in Iraq and I wonder what's wrong with people.

                1. Da Weezil

                  Re: No representation without taxation

                  But as a single person my bin is not as full as the single parent family next door in an identical flat.... so there the argument about those who cause the costs have to pay falls flat.

                  "local government" has gotten above its station, I recall a friend in Sutton years ago berating the lib dems about a redesign of their tree logo and its cost. On being told that they needed to update the corporate image he told them that they were there to sweep the streets and empty the bins and that they didn't need an image for that. Add the sports car fiasco in wales and you can see that this has become just another trough for the political snouts (second division) financed for the parasites by us the people.

                  It always makes me laugh when they go on about the amount of benefits paid out (mostly to those who HAVE contributed all their lives) while forgetting that the worst class for the sense of entitlement to our money are MPs and their entourage, they insist we need pay restraint but for them its a matter of rewarding their immense (and usually well hidden) talent.

                  Banking , insurance and politics, three areas rife with fraud, corruption and greed.

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: No representation without taxation

                    '"local government" has gotten above its station'

                    It certainly has. If asked about failure to grit roads adequately or run public libraries it regularly pleads poverty. And yet it has money to spaff on vanity projects such as cycle races where it pays foreign organisers to run them over local roads which it blocks residents from using.

            2. unitron

              Re: No representation without taxation

              If you consider the roads themselves as publicly provided goods, then 10 people in 10 cars or 20 people in 20 cars is actually greater usage than 10 or 20 people on one bus, at least as far as road crowding is concerned and possibly road wear and tear as well.

              1. Tom 13

                Re: is actually greater usage than 10 or 20 people on one bus

                Typical libtard statement. The 10 or 20 people on the bus aren't paying near what the 10 or 20 people in the cars are toward road maintenance. Most of that comes from the petrol tax so the "efficiency" of the bus mitigates against road maintenance.

                1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
                  Thumb Down

                  Re: is actually greater usage than 10 or 20 people on one bus

                  "Typical libtard statement."

                  You might have made a valid point, but no one will ever know since it followed this statement.

                  1. Tom 13

                    Re: is actually greater usage than 10 or 20 people on one bus

                    Libtards are 10 times worse than Daily Mail readers are alleged to be. It's time for them to either buy a clue or get use to the abuse.

        3. P. Lee

          >No representation without taxation

          How cruel! Denying those currently evading taxes the right to influence government policy!

          I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

          This is nothing like the Florida fiasco.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @James 51, you don't have to purge them if they are not on it to start with which appears to be the case here.

      3. Tom 13

        @James 51

        There is nothing undesirable about removing the names of people who don't live in the voting district from the voter rolls. You seem to have no concept of how corrupt the registration rules and maintenance of those rolls are here in the States. In fact, I would bet my name is still on the rolls back where I went to college even though I have not lived there in 30 years and it is in another state.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On-line registration fail

    > there has been an issue for some of our voters who used the Government's online registration system,

    My son, who turned 18 since the last electoral roll was collected, but works abroad and tried to use the 'online registration service' to register as someone temporarily abroad and they flat-out refused to register him.

    Apparently, having a valid passport, valid NI number, valid NHS number etc counts for nothing and they insisted on having something in writing from someone who is not a relative to vouch that he has roots in this constituency.

  5. returnmyjedi

    Oh my. Diane Abbot will be very concerned about how this affects the people of Haaahhkney.

  6. Major N

    My partner didn't receive a polling card; we spoke to the council who told us that she was registered and to just turn up; fortunately she is on the list at the station. We aren't in London, but it seems similar issues have occurred elsewhere, but our council was switched on enough to deal with it...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >but our council was switched on enough to deal with it...

      Or switched OFF enough - clever stuff paper.

    2. deshepherd

      Polling card is effectively just a reminder of where you are meant to vote and also gives you a number which (a) may make it quicker for them to find you on the list at the polling stations and (b) will make the party reps outside happy if it helps them tick off another one of "their votes" from their canvass reports and avoid them going to knock on your door later to make sure they've got their vote out! The only official statement of whether you have a vote is the roll that they cross your name off in the polling station.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a failure

    This is a success for parties that rely on older people who have been at the same address for a number of years. I couldn't comment on who might gain from this type of voter, maybe ask the party that changed the legistlation.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happened to me in Somerset, I registered 6 months ago via mail. Haing sorted the IT for a number of local councils, I can confirm they are a bunch of idiots. Mendip in Somerset is also reporting that a lot of postal voters have been unable to vote.

  9. Richard 126

    Missing votes

    Postal votes for myself and my partner failed to arrive, hence as we are currently away we were unable to vote. Be interesting to see when I get back if they turned up after the election or if they are lost for all time.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Missing votes

      For all the problems we have with voting on my side of the pond, this isn't one of them. If you show up at the polling place and you aren't registered you can still vote. All you need are two utility bills for your address with your or your spouses name on them. They hand you a provisional ballot and you vote. Granted the provisional ballots only get counted after their verified and IF the margin of victory is close to the number of absentee and provisional ballots cast, but you do still get to vote. Not that this doesn't potentially cause other problems, but you can vote even if you aren't on the roles.

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