Wednesday, 16 June 2010


The most disturbing event which happened during the General Election was the fact that many people were denied their opportunity of recording their vote because the stations closed before those queueing were allowed access.

This has been quietly forgotten but should not be, indeed it is a most serious blunder made by civil servants and Council employees that many, many folk were unable to gain entrance to their local polling station before those stations closed in accordance with the prescribed closing time.

It would appear that the position borders on illegality. If members of this Country have presented themselves for the purpose of voting, then the station closes at the prescribed time before they can vote, something is seriously wrong. This cannot go unchallenged and the Government should now take steps to ensure that such an unjust sitation is never repeated.

Whether or not, people were inside the Station or still lining up outside is immaterial. The duty of the presiding polling authority is to ensure that all those wishing and eligible to vote were able to do so. It was patently not the fault of the voters concerned. They were there, they were able and they were willing to vote and by the way it makes a nonsense of the idea that those not voting should be fined or penalised. If that were the case then there would be several prosecutions awaiting judgement now.

John Cryer lost his seat for Hornchurch at the previous election by just 480 votes. Which party he supported is again, irrelevant. The glaring fact is that those 480 votes could have been those lost by closure of polling stations at the allotted time despite there being several hundred people lining up to gain entrance to a polling booth.

How many marginals may have had a different outcome? The question is not fantastic nor unrealistic and it seems fair comment to claim that true results cannot be construed as such if voters were denied the facility of recording their wishes. In these circumstances a true reflection of the electorate's wishes is just not possible.

It seems a reasonable request that those so denied should be offered a retrospective proxy vote in lieu of that lost by the authorities' mismanagement. It was NOT the fault of those waiting outside and certainly not the fault of those actually in the polling station that they couldn't vote. It is very important that this lapse be addressed and should never happen again. In other countries people are being killed in a struggle to obtain democracy by a free vote and our own history remembers the fight of the suffragettes to get votes for women so to lose this hardwon right over the inefficiency and bad planning by those in charge is not only contemptuously scandalous, it is unlawful. Being able to vote is a fundamental right.
Joan Grant


With the recent elections revealing how uncertain the electorate has been as to who should govern this country of ours, the usual statements about people using their votes come to the fore.

There is a strong feeling that everyone should use their vote, particularly when one considers that there was a time when the ordinary man did not have that privilege and that women too were denied the opportunity of choosing who should rule them until very recently.

Many suggest that those people not bothering to vote should be summonsed or pressured in some other way to use their ballot paper. Given the the circumstances mentioned above, this attitude is understandable but such a draconian measure appears to smack of an attack on the individual's right to remain outside politics for one reason or another.

It would seem a much more fairer idea for the voter to be given a chance to show that he feels there is no-one for whom he could offer his support. To this end perhaps the ballot paper could have a box at the bottom of the list of candidates'names for abstention. This would demonstrate the fact that if there had been a candidate worthy of a vote the abstainer would have elected him or her but that since the voter can see no-one worthy of consideration he displays this fact by abstaining. For instance if the candidates were Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot, quite clearly a conscientious elector would not favour any one of these. In this case, his cross in the abstention box would show his willingness to attend the polling station and vote but that there was no-one he considered fit to take a representative position in this country.

To summons someone for disinterest or being in a genuine dilemma is not the answer and would involve expensive and useless prosecution but allowing a voter to declare his wish to abstain allows the voter a declaration and carries a clear message to all candidates.