Second electoral problem in Darlington leads to court action to check ‘missing’ votes

The Advertiser reports on more problems coming to light about the elections in Darlington last week, this time to do with counting votes:

A local election result has been thrown into doubt after a second error came to light in a council’s voting procedures.

Darlington council yesterday applied to the county court to have votes recounted in the Hurworth ward, after it emerged that some votes – believed to be about 500 postal ones – may not have been tallied in last Thursday’s election.

An initial investigation at the council suggests that the ballot papers were verified – checked to make sure they were in order – but were not included in the final count.

The error comes just days after 89 General Election ballot papers were issued at the town’s Whessoe polling station without the name of the Ukip candidate, David Hodgson, on them. The mistake happened when the guillotine used to cut the ballot papers for the Darlington constituency was set in error to the size of the neighbouring Sedgefield constituency, meaning Mr Hodgson was cut off.

That apparent mismatch between verified and counted votes is just the sort of thing good cross-checking systems should catch at the time – an example of why poor systems, not tired people, are at the heart of counting problems.

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