Monday, 4 May 2015

Your guide to voting in East Devon >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> How many votes do I have? > Where is my polling station?

There has been some confusion in East Devon about the procedures around casting votes on Thursday 7th May.

Firstly, there is the 'scandal' about postal voting, where is it clear that, due to errors by the Returning Officer, there will be electors who will have been disenfranchised:
Futures Forum: "Democracy in East Devon is every bit as bad as it is in places like Tower Hamlets."

This piece from the Express & Echo gives some guidance as to how to fill in the voting forms on election day - for the District Council elections:

Apology issued to East Devon postal voters affected by wrong district council election information

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: April 27, 2015

AN apology has been pledged to postal voters in East Devon who have been issued with the wrong information about the district council election which could result in some constituents not exercising their full right to vote and candidates losing out on votes.

Mark Williams, the returning officer for East Devon District Council, who is also the authority’s chief executive, has apologised for an error identified on the Postal Voting Statement sent to some electors on Friday, April 24. The error concerns guidance for voters on the number of candidates to vote for in 12 out of the 29 contested wards.

In some wards with two or three seats, an elector can place up to three votes.

The error in the Postal Voting Statement incorrectly suggesting that the elector should vote for just one candidate so voters who have already voted will have missed an opportunity to exercise their full vote, and candidates may have lost out on votes. Affected constituents have been informed by a letter and encouraged to request a replacement ballot paper. For the Local Government election (green ballot paper), the guidance states: “Where an election is required vote for only one candidate by putting a cross (X) in the box next to your choice”.

It should state: “Where an election is required, vote for no more than the number of candidates as stated on the top of the ballot paper by putting a cross (X) in the box next to each of your choices”.

However no papers will be invalid.

A council spokesperson said: “Electors who have already returned their green ballot papers after following the incorrect guidance can telephone the elections team and request a new ballot paper. Their first ballot paper will then be destroyed. If in any doubt follow the guidance on the face of the ballot paper.”

Anyone who believes they’ve received an incorrect ballot paper should phone the council on, 01395 517402.

Sidmouth resident, Sue Mills, heavily condemned the mistake. “Ultimately, this almighty mess-up could affect the result,” she said. “How difficult can it be? You would assume the chief executive in his role as returning officer, would have checked and double-checked this information before it was sent out.

“It’s all very well the council saying that it intends to contact all those sent the erroneous guidance, but, aside from the not-inconsiderable cost, what if, for instance, they have now gone away on holiday? After all, that must be one of the main reasons why people apply for postal votes.

“How many people might or might not have been affected is immaterial; if a single person has inadvertently failed to utilise all their votes as a result of this misinformation that’s an affront to the democratic process. What’s more, it could, conceivably, affect who is elected and that simply cannot be acceptable.”

There will elections for district seats in the following 29 out of 32 wards:

Axminster Rural, Axminster Town, Broadclyst, Budleigh Salterton, Coly Valley, Dunkeswell, Exe Valley, Exmouth Brixington, Exmouth Halsdon, Exmouth Littleham, Exmouth Town, Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh, Feniton & Buckerell, Honiton St Michael’s, Honiton St Paul’s, Newbridges, Newton Poppleford and Harpford, Otterhead, Ottery St Mary Rural, Ottery St Mary Town, Raleigh, Seaton, Sidmouth Rural, Sidmouth Sidford, Sidmouth Town, Tale Vale, Whimple, Woodbury & Lympstone and Yarty.

The following three wards are uncontested and will not have elections: Beer and Branscombe, Clyst Valley and Trinity.

Apology issued to East Devon postal voters affected by wrong district council election information | Exeter Express and Echo

Here is some helpful guidance from the Secretary of the East Devon Alliance:

Remember to vote for 3 for EDDC!

Written by Cathy Gardner on 28-Apr-2015.

I have had many questions asked about the elections happening on May 7. There has been plenty of talk about the Parliamentary one but no real mention in the media about the others. 

You will get 2 or 3 ballot papers (depending where you live and your voting rights in the UK). 

Everyone should get a parliamentary vote (one). 

Sidmouth residents will get a green slip for the District Council election – there are 3 seats on EDDC for Sidmouth Town ward so you can vote for up to 3 people. It says this on the top of the ballot paper and this is the paper with my name on it!

Some parts of Sidmouth will also get a yellow ballot paper for the Town Council – again, look at the top of the paper to see how many votes you have.

Any questions do ask or call Democratic Services at EDDC on 01395 516551

Remember to vote for 3 for EDDC! | East Devon Alliance
Missing postal votes? | East Devon Alliance

On-line information on voting in East Devon can be found at the District Council's website:
Elections and registering to vote - East Devon

And it takes you to where you can find out what your ward and constituency are:
What parish, ward and constituency do I vote in? - East Devon

You have to search a little to find where the polling stations are...
You need to look at the bottom of the page of the ward you are voting for:

And the Herald has a map of where to find the polling stations. Scroll down to the bottom:
Election - Sidmouth Herald
Election - Midweek Herald

But it is still difficult to find clear instructions on how to vote on the District Council's website - for example:
Elections - East Devon District council elections - East Devon

Similarly, the Sidmouth Town Council website gives links to nominations, but no information on how many representatives there are per ward and, therefore, how many votes there are to cast for each ward:
Home - Sidmouth Town Council

Here is a list of candidates - together with how many votes electors will have to cast for each ward:
Futures Forum: The final list of candidates for Sidmouth Town Council election announced
Futures Forum: The final list of candidates for East Devon District Council election announced
Futures Forum: The final list of candidates for East Devon Parliamentary election announced

See also:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Election hustings in Sidmouth - a roundup

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