‘I couldn’t vote’: Council accused of polling errors
Students have spoken of their frustration at being denied the right to vote after it is alleged Leeds City Council made a string of errors on election day.
Several students have told The Gryphon they had trouble casting their vote on 7th May, with some unable to vote altogether.
One undergraduate was refused the chance to have his say after being told someone had already voted in his name. Another claims polling station staff in Headingley didn’t even ask her name.
A third Leeds student claims she has not been able to vote in the General Election following an ‘admin error’.
‘He just said there was nothing that could be done and I couldn’t vote’
Third-year International Relations student Emma Simpson says that she applied for postal vote in February, but when no ballot paper arrived, requested that her housemate vote on her behalf instead.
Emma, who is currently living in Germany, was then told that the Council was ‘unable to locate’ her proxy voting form. She claims her name was then put forward to an emergency voting register, but this failed to be processed in time.
Speaking to this newspaper, she explained, ‘Unfortunately, my postal vote never arrived and, as voting day grew nearer, I decided to ask for a proxy. I filled out the form and sent it by first-class post a week before the deadline of 28th April, citing my reason for requesting a proxy as my postal vote never arriving’.
‘Days passed, and no polling card arrived with my nominated proxy. Two days ago, I rang the Council to check on the process of my request. The person I spoke to could find no record of my proxy application, or of my postal application, and told me to expect a call back the following or next day.’
‘They didn’t even check my name’
She tweeted, ‘I’ll not let Leeds City Council forget what they have done to me and many others: voting is a right and of vital democratic importance.’
First-year Geology student Jacob Paterson told The Gryphon that he was refused the chance to vote at Shire Oak Primary School in Headingley. He explained, ‘The man behind the desk said there was already a cross by my name and, after he leafed through paperwork for five minutes, he just said there was nothing that could be done and I couldn’t vote’.
First-year History undergraduate Elli Pugh, who voted at the same polling station in Headingley, said that staff failed to check her name. She said, ‘I was asked my address and they assumed that the name they had written down was me. They didn’t even check’.
‘They said someone had crossed my name out on the register’
Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he registered to vote in both Leeds and Birmingham, since this is legal for voters with two addresses. He found out on Thursday morning that the Council ‘messed up’ his application, meaning a two-hour train journey home to vote in Aldridge in Birmingham.
Second-year International History and Politics student Alexander Peel told The Gryphon that the Council failed to send polling cards to him and some housemates, despite the fact that they registered to vote.
He explained, ‘I rang the Council and they said someone had crossed my name out on the register. I tweeted Leeds City Council and they managed to sort it out somehow. My name was written in pen at the bottom of the page on the register at the polling station today so they must have added me on last minute’.
The Gryphon has contacted Leeds City Council for a statement and is awaiting a response.