Somerset woman sent to vote at polling station that was demolished three years ago

An area of grassy scrap land, as seen through metal fencing. This is the former location on Monmouth Hall in Yeovil. In an inset, a polling station sign
Where Jessica's polling station should have been with (inset) a polling station sign -Credit:Jessica

A Somerset woman faced a challenge trying to vote yesterday — as her polling station was demolished three years ago.

Jessica, from Yeovil, was told by the Electoral Commission website and staff at Somerset Council that she needed to go to Monmouth Hall on St John’s Road to cast her vote in the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner election — but the building was demolished in 2021.

She never received a poll card for the election, which should have listed her polling station, through what she believes was an issue with the postal service. But she said she knew of the election from Labour campaign materials posted through the door and adverts online and was keen to cast her vote.

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Jessica said: “When I checked online where my polling station was on the Electoral Commission website it advised me it was held in a building that was demolished in 2021. I reported this through their online system so it is hoped that they will update it before the next election.

“I phoned the council to confirm that I was in fact registered to vote as I had not received my polling card and to check where I am meant to vote as I should be registered. They confirmed that I was registered and that my polling station was the demolished building.

“I reminded them that the building had been demolished in 2021 so it wasn't my polling station to which they couldn't answer my question of where I had to go instead and passed me on to another employee at the council.

“The other employee at the council told me that my polling station was the demolished building and then — even though I told them I hadn't received my polling card — that it would be listed on the card.”

Monmouth Hall in Yeovil, which was demolished in 2021
Monmouth Hall in Yeovil, which was demolished in 2021 -Credit:Google Maps

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She was then told she could vote at either one of two nearby polling stations, which she said “didn't feel right.” But after turning up to one of them, poll clerks told her she was on the list and it was the location she should vote at in future. She said: “I was glad that I had finally received a straight answer but it should not have been that difficult.”

Jessica was able to cast her vote.

A spokesperson for Somerset Council said: “We’d like to apologise for any confusion about the location of this polling station. We believe some information was not updated after a number of polling stations were changed due to non-availability and capacity.”

Council staff confirmed that another person also had been in touch after issues with a different polling station in Yeovil, after also looking up their polling station on the Electoral Commission website. An elections services officer said: “This is obviously something that needs to be flagged up and sorted before the general election to avoid this happening again.”

Jessica said: “There have already been concerns that the Elections Bill will make it harder for the public to vote due to the ID requirements and I would hope that others haven't had my difficulties with Royal Mail not delivering polling cards and then being told to go to polling stations that do not exist.

“But if it's happened to one person then it is possible that it has happened to others who may not have the time [and] energy to chase the correct information.”

The result from the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner election was declared shortly before 7am this morning. Clare Moody (Labour) was elected to the role, unseating Mark Shelford (Conservative).

Mr Shelford received more than twice as many votes as Ms Moody from voters in the Somerset Council area, and led in all other council areas except for Bristol. But a huge Labour vote in the city put Ms Moody narrowly ahead.

Ms Moody received 95,982 votes, while Mr Shelford received 91,006. Katy Grant (Green) received 64,623 votes and Benet Allen (Liberal Democrat) received 45,864.