Breckland Election Votes Fiasco

I have been sent this information about the fiaso which is the counting of votes using electronic means in Breckland. To describe it as catastrophically bad is an understatement. This needs as wide a coverage as possible.

"You may be aware of the fiasco in Breckland regarding the counting of votes, the whole process has now been abandoned until Tuesday when it is hoped all votes will be counted manually, not electronically.

Some seats have been declared, e.g. Dereham Central and Dereham Humbletoft, I think the results speak for themselves -

Dereham - Humbletoft - DISTRICT - Turnout was 13.9% yet for the Town it was 31% ! The result was declared that Labour lost the Dereham Humbletoft seat, however after raising this turnout issue for the varying turnout for the same seat with the town and district, it was discovered that a large number of votes for the District seat HAD NOT been counted!!!!

It was then admitted that an error had been made but the result still stood after the other votes had been counted.

Also look at Dereham Central - DISTRICT - Turnout 32%Dereham Central - TOWN - Turnout 15%These are DECLARED results but there is clearly something wrong with them.

The whole process today has been a complete shambles, candidates arrived at 9am to await the results and they waited all day, and then at 8.30pm the returning offer - after consulting with agents, agreed that a manual recount was the best option but staff were too tired and it wasnt fair to keep them for many more hours and also accuracy of the counting would become an issue.

At this time, around 20 of the 54 seats had been declared, but even some of the delcared ones are contentious.This has not been a good day for democracy in Thetford!

The count will continue on Tuesday, hopefully with a recount of the results declared so far - this decision is up to the returning office."

I think that says it all.


Anonymous said...

An email from Robin Goreham, Labour Leader on Breckland Council to the Eastern Region Labour Party office.

Dear Eastern Region,

I write to express my grave concerns about aspects of the conduct of the Breckland Council Election Count held yesterday (4th May 2007).

I am concerned, specifically, about declared results in Dereham (Humbletoft) and Dereham (Central) where, clearly, votes were discovered after the declaration has been made. In the first instance, there was a clear admission of error by the Returning Officer. My colleague, Chris Holland, also has grave concerns about the declared result in Launditch, the reasons for which he will explain to you personally. In all three of these wards, the Labour vote held (actually increased from 2003), but the Conservative vote rose dramatically.

I am further concerned by the overall manner in which the Count was conducted. Less than half the wards were declared – in the period from 9AM to 8:30PM – and a decision was taken by the Returning Officer to dispense with e counting, and to commence manual counting on Tuesday 8th May. This means that some wards will be counted electronically and some manually. There were various admissions of failure throughout the day such as “cross contamination of ballot boxes” in Swaffham and Thetford. The local Press Reporter referred to events as a “fiasco”, and clearly the Returning Officer appeared to be losing control of events as tiredness and fatigue set in. Several of the Agents were also expressing concern at the transport of, and security for, the various ballot boxes.

How are any successful or unsuccessful candidates at this Election going to feel confident about any of the results? Prior to the Count, there were well publicized stories in the local Press concerning people who had registered for postal votes but had not received them in time to vote.

Going back to my first paragraph, I consider that an electoral petition is justified, under the Local Elections Principle Areas Rules 1986 (Rule 47 et al). The Agents for the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and UKIP stated they would be willing to support such a petition.

I strongly urge the Party to support this petition, and to meet with John Cowan, Terry Jermy, Tim Mantripp, Chris Holland and myself as a matter of urgency to discuss the details.

Kind regards,

Robin Goreham

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's all going down in Breckland.

Still, let's think back a couple of years to the last notable time electronic voting machines were used, oh yes, the 2004 US Presidential elections...