Why are returning officers being stricter?
I’ve been getting reports, which by their very nature have to be unofficial, that in many places the officers running Thursday’s elections are taking a very tough line on postal votes which are currently being received and verified.
In several local authority areas the number of reject ballots is running at more than one in four. A common reason is that voters have not filled in their date of birth correctly – a measure that’s been introduced to cut down on voter fraud.
Another more tricky case is a local authority where the gum on the return envelopes it sent out is not sticking properly. The result is that when ballots arrived they are having to be rejected because the rule is that the envelopes have had to be sealed properly to prevent tampering.
When party officials monitoring the count have tried to intervene saying that it’s the envelopes that are the problem they been told that there’s nothing that can be done. If there is a sticking problem then it’s the responsibility voters to ensure that their ballots are returned in a proper manner.
Quite how this will impact on the outcome I do not know – but it does appear that those in charge of running elections are heeding the advice of the Electoral Commission to ensure that things are in order.
The massive expansion of postal voting has been pushed forward by Labour against the advice of many involved in managing the process and I suppose that what we are seeing is a manifestation of that.