Tower Hamlets Returning Office pay reduced over election mistakes

A news release from the Electoral Commission brings news about Tower Hamlets, a borough with a long record of controversy over how its elections are run and over possible election fraud:

Following the European Parliamentary, local and mayoral elections in May 2014 … the Electoral Commission has found that in respect of the verification and count at the European Parliamentary and local elections, the [Tower Hamlets] Returning Officer did not meet elements of performance standards 1 and 2.

Performance standard 1 relates to voters and the need for them to have confidence that their vote will be counted in the way they intended. Performance standard 2 relates to those who want to stand for election and the need for candidates to have confidence that the count process is well-managed, and have confidence in the results.

The Commission found that the Returning Officer had inadequate resources for the verification of ballot papers and counting of ballot papers. This meant that the delivery of the verification and count was severely delayed, but did achieve an accurate result in a transparent manner…

The Tower Hamlets Returning Officer agreed with the Commission’s assessment of his performance and to a reduction in his fee for carrying out his duties as Returning Officer for the European Parliamentary election. As a result the Returning Officer will be receiving a reduction of 12.5% (£1,105.38) of their total fee of £8,843.

As I’ve covered before, such reductions in pay are one of the (lesser) legacies of the Liberal Democrats being in government and, as a relatively new thing, there isn’t much in the way of precedent to judge this decision again. However, many people looking on at Tower Hamlets will, I’m sure, wonder if a 12.5% reduction matches the seriousness of the mistakes.

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