Resident refused ballot paper in Birkenhead (General Election 2019)
This is a quick report on what happened when I went to vote at my local polling station (which is Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in polling district AC in Bidston and St James ward (which for the purposes of this general election of a Member of Parliament is in the Birkenhead Constituency)).
The polling station was unusually busy (even taking into account it’s a general election) – despite being the largest polling district in this ward.
Myself and Leonora waited in the queue. Ahead of us was someone wanting a ballot paper to vote. I was standing in front of the Wirral Council employees sitting at the table so I saw the Wirral Council employees insist to her that they wouldn’t give her a ballot paper despite repeated requests. They then referred her to the other table on the other side of the room – so I’ve no idea whether her issue was sorted out or not.
At the last general election in 2017 – Wirral Council insisted as a condition of the press being allowed to observe the count (in what was considered by ourselves to be unlawful inteference with press freedom contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998 to report on the election) that all journalists as a mandatory condition must agree that “the dignity of election proceedings must not be compromised”.
Therefore (if Wirral Council in 2019 is doing it the same as in 2017) the rest of the local press isn’t really allowed to report on people being turned away from being allowed to vote a polling station – so I’ve no idea really how widespread this problem is or whether it was just somebody that got missed out of being registered or whether it is a sign of something more fundamentally wrong.
However, I did experience the same refusal of being given a ballot paper a number of years ago at the same polling station during a general election. It took a few hours to sort out and even then my ballot didn’t appear on the list of the ballot papers that had been counted (the Returning Officer at the time explained it had been counted but that Wirral Council just didn’t bother to record such votes as counted which is indeed the sort of problems with communication that a lot of people seem to have with Wirral Council). Essentially his explanation was in simple terms the electoral equivalent of an unobserved Schrödinger’s cat.
I look forward to seeing what the result is once polls have closed at 10 pm.
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