Denbighshire election mix-up finally sorted, but why did it take so long?

Back last May, the count was messed up in one ward at the Denbighshire County Council elections:

Returning officer and council chief executive Mohammed Mehmet said a block of ballot papers which should have been allocated to the Labour candidate Paul Penlington were “inadvertently” allocated to Tory Allan Pennington, who won the last of the three seats available on the ward.

A very poor mistake for the council staff to make as it was such an obvious possible problem with two candidates with similar names.

Yet the rest of our electoral machinery has hardly covered itself in glory, for it has taken a shade under 9 months since polling day to untangle this. It is only this week that:

A council election result has been reversed to favour a Labour candidate whose votes were wrongly given to a Conservative with a similar name…

Speaking after the court ruling, Mohammed Mehmet, Denbighshire’s chief executive, said: “Once this mistake came to our attention, we acted immediately. We have tightened our procedures further to make sure this kind of mistake is avoided in future”.

A special two-judge election court officially accepted the result which will take formal effect in seven days.

Mr Justice Collins, sitting in London with Mrs Justice Slade, said: “I am sorry it has taken so long; it’s been eight months or so but that can’t be helped.”

“Can’t be helped”? Perhaps in the narrowest sense of how the procedures currently operate that is true, but it shouldn’t take so long for such a straightforward case to be resolved, especially as in the meantime the residents have been deprived of their rightly elected representative to work on their behalf.

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