More than a thousand postal votes cast in last month’s election could not be counted because the Royal Mail delivered them too late, the council says.
Brighton and Hove City Council says Royal Mail delivered 1,423 completed postal ballot packs at 8am on Friday, 5 May – ten hours after the cut-off time.
Will Tuckley, the council’s interim chief executive and returning officer has called on Royal Mail bosses to finalise their investigation into the late delivery of these postal votes comprising 4.6% of those issued and received.
In a strongly worded letter sent to Royal Mail bosses several weeks ago, deputy returning officer Michael Appleford said: “We would like this matter investigated and for the importance of delivering election mail reiterated to the local teams.
“We are extremely disappointed with the service we have received from the Gatwick and Hove operational teams.
“We have also raised this issue with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Electoral Commission.”
With no outcome received, the returning officer is now calling for Royal Mail to complete their investigation and confirm when they received the packs delivered on Friday, 5 May.
Will Tuckley said: “The returning officer counted all ballot papers returned by 10pm on polling day. It is concerning to receive packs after the close of poll.
“Royal Mail must swiftly conclude their investigation so we can understand when they were posted and should have been delivered.
“It is possible that these postal votes were placed in post boxes across the city on polling day and therefore would not have been received by the deadline. However, we need certainty.
“We are aware that other local authorities in the South East had other issues with Royal Mail delivering poll cards and postal voting packs. It is essential that Royal Mail’s leadership understand the importance of their service in the delivery of elections.”
It’s not known which wards the uncounted postal votes were cast in. However,there were three wards where recounts took place because of small differences in votes for some candidates.
Hannah Allbrooke (Green) lost by just six votes in Brunswick and Adelaide, Leo Littman (Green) lost by 32 votes in Preston Park and Ricky Perrin (Green) lost by just one vote in Regency.
This was the first election which required an official form of ID to vote. Last month, 335 people turned up at polling stations without the correct ID. Of these, 213 returned with accepted ID and were given a ballot paper – but 122 did not.