Postal ballots fail to arrive for UK election

Several readers have contacted Connexion to say they have not yet received postal ballot papers for the UK general election – it is now too late to vote if this applies to you.

10 December 2019
By Oliver Rowland

In the past however certain councils have offered the solution of allowing an emergency proxy vote, so if you are in this situation we suggest contacting yours now to ask them if this is possible.

One way of finding a proxy is to speak to the local branch in the UK of the party that you wish to vote for (see also links below for a Facebook group that may be able to help). Anyone can be a proxy for you if they are a UK voter and either are a close relative or have not agreed to be a proxy for more than one other person.

Reader Rowan Thompson from Occitanie, said: “We have been disenfranchised.

“When I phoned over a week ago, a member of staff at Solihull MBC told me that they had waited until after the closing date for applications for postal votes [November 26] before posting out any postal ballot papers. 

“Ours have not yet arrived, so removing our ability to vote.

“Postal delays cannot be blamed because we receive Christmas cards daily from friends in the UK, with very recent posting dates.”

It would have been better if overseas ballots had been sent out as soon as possible after the ballot papers were printed, he said.

Another reader Clive Norwood also from Occitanie, wrote: “Despite assurances from our council’s electoral administrator that our two ballot papers were passed to the Royal Mail on November 20 for onward delivery, nothing has arrived here in France.”

Janice McKellar, who lives in the south-west, said: “My husband and I are still awaiting our voting papers. It is now impossible, even if we did receive them today, to complete and return the papers in time.”

She added: “After two phone calls to the Returning Office in Edinburgh and one to the Returning Office in West Lothian, I still did not know when the overseas papers were sent. One person said one day before the UK papers, another said six days before the UK papers. The only thing they could agree on, was that nothing could now be done.

“Yet again overseas voters are being disadvantaged by inefficient UK local councils and local government.”

Some postal ballots have arrived late in all of the last few UK general elections and the Brexit referendum, partly because, despite guidelines from the Electoral Commission that councils should prioritise overseas postal ballots and check correct postage errors are sometimes made by individual councils.

These have included sending out overseas ballots too late for them to arrive in time for return from abroad, not using the right postage for sending to France (or using a budget grouped mailing service that went via the Netherlands), or not including the right pre-paid postage on return envelopes.

Campaign groups and the Electoral Commission this year recommended a proxy vote as the most reliable way to take part, in view of the greater uncertainties of the post and possible additional delays in delivery due to the Christmas post.

One reader however, wrote to praise her UK council for getting it right.

Susan Robinson said: “While you may receive many emails from people complaining about their postal vote I would wish to praise the council dealing with mine - Bradford.

“I got the papers on November 27, all with the right envelopes.

“I feel sorry for those who experience problems but just wanted to put a good word in for the efficiency at Bradford. Too often the city gets bad press.”

 Previous articles

Has your UK postal vote come in right envelope? 

Group offers last-minute help to find proxy 

Time running out for proxy vote in UK general election 

Opt for proxy vote to avoid postal delays 

Low-cost post meant papers came too late to vote 

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