Result – Bidston & St. James

Here is my further post on the result for Bidston & St. James.

The number of ballots counted in this election did not match the number of votes cast.

Unfortunately some spoilt ballot papers (for example people voting for more than one candidate) were added to some candidate’s totals.

I am therefore unable to say whether my own vote was counted. I did raise this very issue with the Returning Officer last year. His view was that last year about fifty votes in Bidston & St. James didn’t appear on the list of people who had voted, because counting staff hadn’t bothered to properly record them.

The problem I have, is that although I, my agent, the Labour candidate & agent and others are well aware what the result of the vote should’ve been, the problem is that the difference in votes between 2nd, 3rd and 4th place amounts to amounts of votes that can change in a recount (or as above those that are not properly recorded).

We only have to look at the Oxton recount to see how a large number of votes changed after being recounted. Sadly, Wirral Council decided not to recount the totals and never properly accounted for the missing ballot papers.

Some may say, what does it matter if my vote is counted or not? However I am personally concerned when things “don’t add up”.

Currently Harry Smith is no longer a councillor, as after a result is declared it is at least four days before this happens.

Our own prediction of the result made before the count based on the views of hundreds of Bidston & St. James voters is as follows:-

Labour 1st 71.9% +-5% (Actual declared result 79.4%)
Lib Dem 2nd 17.7% +-5% (Actual declared result 5.62%)
Conservative 3rd 5.2% +-5% (Actual declared result 9.98%)
UKIP 4th 5.2 % +-5% (Actual declared result 4.99%)

As you can see from the above, we agree with the Conservative and UKIP result. Labour’s total was (sadly) inflated by spoilt ballot papers.

The mystery as to why the Lib Dem result was so widely different to what it should be can be explained by a number of factors:-

1) When the votes are divided up to be counted counters are handed out pieces of paper with 25 on in a party’s colour – eg red Labour, blue Tory, white spoilt ballot papers, yellow Lib Dem, purple UKIP.

No yellow 25s were initially handed out to counters. This was raised by myself as candidate as to why the Lib Dem votes weren’t being counted.

2) The counters soon ran out of 25s so 25s from different parties were used. This meant each candidates total was a mixture of colours and instead of using seperate trays, one tray was used for Labour, the Conservative and UKIP votes were put in a second tray with the Lib Dem votes hidden from view behind a ballot box.

3) Obvious spoilt ballot papers weren’t adjudicated by the candidates and agents.

4) Something happened in the last fortnight leading up to the election in which a number of lies were told about the Lib Dem candidate in order to persuade some Lib Dem voters not to vote. My wife falls into this category as a paid canvasser came to her door to tell her things about her husband that she knew weren’t true.

However, it remains to be seen what happens next. As candidate I could file an election petition and possibly get a recount of all votes cast. Although a recount may change the position of the 2nd/3rd and 4th place candidates, I am quite happy to concede that although his tally was inflated more voters voted for Harry Smith.

The point does need to be made that Labour campaign breached election law at least once (possibly more than once!), but would the people of Bidston & St. James tolerate the by-election that would result from a successful legal challenge?

I will need to obtain further information from Wirral Council as to what happened at the count and why there is the potential that my own vote wasn’t counted before proceeding further.

134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH

Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.