John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
  Deep Throat blows whistle from Elections Office
I thought nothing could surprise me. Oddly enough something did today. I was told by someone in the elections office that there had been "Envelope 4s" mislaid during the local elections and not counted. There was a plan to "get rid" of them, but one or more staff were unhappy about this and kept them.

Envelope 4s are the postal ballots taken to the polling station and collected by the presiding officer. There can be 1 ballot or 20 ballots in one envelope.

I was told that on the 4th Floor of the Elections Office in the Archive Room which is the second door on the right and has a yale lock that in the little room off the side high up there was a box with 200 Envelope 4s in it.

The political parties had a meeting with the police and the elections officials and we discussed aspects of the election procedure. I made the point that I wanted to have a facility whereby the elections office could be inspected. At the end of the meeting I explained I had received a detailed allegation and wished to check for evidence and that I didn't want anyone to be able to warn the elections office that I wanted to inspect it with the police.

We had a short meeting after the event in which the police seemed quite happy to look at the elections office, but the returning officer was quite resistant. After some discussion, however, it was agreed that the inspection would occur immediately.

I, therefore, went to the Elections Office with Mirza Ahmad and the head of the Fraud Squad (Dave Churchill).

Lo and behold there was an orange crate high up on a shelf.

When we took it down it was full of envelopes.

These envelopes contained other envelopes.

These envelopes were unopened postal ballots.

The crate was placed on a trolley and walked to the Council House

It was then put in the office of the returning officer.


This story has shot around the country amazingly rapidly and two members of staff in the Elections Office have been suspended.

We have to thank that member of the elections office who was sufficiently concerned about the process of elections being correct as to provide me with the detailed allegation.

The Returning Officer has issued a statement:
"Following an oral allegation received this morning about uncounted votes,
I authorised the Council's chief legal officer and a police officer to
visit the elections office this morning. As a result of this visit,
certain evidence has been handed over to the police and I have started an
urgent investigation into the matter. In accordance with normal city
council internal procedures I have suspended two officers from duty as a
consequence of the allegations made. The suspensions are without prejudice
and I will be unable to comment further on this matter until the internal
investigations are complete."
 
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