Full list of London councils using software that sent General Election polling cards to ineligible voters by mistake

Ballot Box Stock Image
-Credit: (Image: City of York council)

More than half of all London councils used faulty software that sent General Election polling cards to ineligible voters by mistake, an investigation by MyLondon has found. Some 18 local authorities said they used Civica’s Xpress management software but only six - Lambeth Council, Wandsworth Council, Ealing Council, Enfield Council, Croydon Council and Redbridge Council - said polling cards were mistakenly sent to ineligible voters.

In total, MyLondon understands 57 people were affected, with Enfield Council, Croydon Council and Redbridge Council making up the lion’s share with 45 voters. All have been notified of the error and will not be able to vote in the General Election on July 4.

Ealing Council said those impacted will not be able to vote as their details will not appear on the eligible voting register held at polling stations. Redbridge Council said it informed ineligible voters of the error two weeks ago.

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One impacted voter was informed of the mix-up by email
One impacted voter was informed of the mix-up by email -Credit:Supplied

The other councils said they were either made aware of the glitch before polling cards were sent out or had processes in place to avoid the situation. Civica, a software company providing services to 5,000 public bodies globally, according to its website, said an issue with some European electors’ poll cards had been identified and has since been rectified.

MyLondon is yet to hear from Hillingdon Council and Tower Hamlets Council, despite repeatedly approaching them for comment. Tower Hamlets is advertised as a user of Civica’s products, according to the company’s website. It is not clear if this include the use of Xpress.

Haringey Council and Islington Council said their voters were not impacted by the glitch but failed to confirm if they used the software. It comes as a senior official involved in election preparation at a local authority in England told MyLondon that at least 12 ineligible voters received polling cards for the upcoming General Election in their area.

MyLondon is also aware of a polling card being sent to an ineligible voter in Staines-upon-Thames. Spelthorne Borough Council, which covers Staines-upon-Thames, confirmed 330 EU residents in the Ashford East ward who are eligible to vote in a council by-election on July 4 had been incorrectly sent polling cards for the General Election.

A council spokesperson said it has contacted all those affected and apologised for the error. The spokesperson said staff at relevant polling stations have been informed of the situation.

According to the senior election official, the software examines local election registers to determine who can vote and sends them polling cards and is believed to be used by between 60 and 70per cent of councils in England and Wales.

The official said the glitch affected European residents who registered to vote between May 7 and May 20 and had arrived in the UK before 2021. They said this group of voters was eligible to vote in local elections but not in a general election.

The senior official said Civica informed local authorities using the software of the glitch and compiled lists of residents it believed were ineligible to vote but received a polling card. The source claims councils were then tasked with informing residents of the mix-up.

Tower Hamlets Council's annual budget meeting was held at the town hall in Whitechapel
Tower Hamlets Council is listed as a customer on Civica's website -Credit:Tower Hamlets Council

The election specialist said the software registered which country residents came from but not whether they were EU citizens and therefore listed them as eligible to vote. Under current election laws, EU nationals who do not hold either British and Commonwealth citizenship cannot vote in a general election.

Civica’s website said the programme is “trusted” by 70pc of local authorities in England and Wales. A brochure on its website said the company’s Mobile Canvasser App is used by more than 80 authorities.

A Civica spokesperson said: “An issue with some European electors’ poll cards was identified, and an update to the system was issued, and therefore resolved. The Xpress register at the polling station will only contain eligible electors for these Parliamentary elections.”

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “We have been informed that a glitch in the Xpress election software, owned by the external supplier Civica, has caused some European registered electors to receive a poll card in error for the General Election. Civica has contacted councils and provided an updated software release to rectify the glitch in the system.

“This has allowed Enfield’s Election Team to generate a report identifying the total number of affected European citizen voters. In Enfield, 16 residents have been impacted, two of which are postal voters.

“None of these residents appear on the Polling Register, so they would not have been able to vote, despite being sent polling cards in error. The Elections Team has contacted all 16 residents, informing them of this error and advised them not to attend the polling station on 4 July.”

A spokesperson for Croydon Council said: “A total of 19 electors in our constituencies were impacted by the software error. We have contacted all the affected electors and advised that they will not be able to vote in the general election.”

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “We use Civica Xpress software to help manage elections in the borough. We can confirm that ten people were incorrectly sent polling cards. We contacted these people over two weeks ago to confirm that they are not eligible for the upcoming general election.”

MyLondon understands local authorities have a contractual relationship with their electoral service providers which is not covered by electoral law. It also understands authorities may contact the Electoral Commission for guidance on how to respond to issues that could impact the delivery of polls but are not required to by electoral law.

MyLondon understands the Electoral Commission is unaware of any local authorities contacting them about this issue.

Full list of councils

The local authorities in London which confirmed using Xpress are:

  • Kensington and Chelsea Council

  • Lambeth Council - 3 residents impacted

  • Croydon Council - 19 residents impacted

  • Redbridge Council - 10 residents impacted

  • Greenwich Council

  • Hackney Council

  • Lewisham Council

  • Southwark Council

  • Wandsworth Council - 6 residents impacted

  • Bromley Council

  • Ealing Council - 3 residents impacted

  • Enfield Council - 16 residents impacted

  • Harrow Council

  • Havering Council

  • Hounslow Council

  • Richmond Council

  • Waltham Forest Council

  • Newham Council

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