Voter slams 'disgusting' error as General Election postal votes in Essex sent out late

Uttlesford District Council
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Emma Doyle)

Thousands of postal votes in North West Essex have been delayed due to “human error” at a district council, leaving voters fuming. A total of 2,644 postal votes in the Uttlesford and Chelmsford area who are due to vote in the North West Essex constitutency have been sent out late by Uttlesford District Council, with the council boss saying he’s mortified and prepared to consider his position over the issue.

The delay in postal votes arriving could mean some people are unable to vote due to the timing of their summer trips away. Rebecca Tollfree, 39, from Broomfield, who has been impacted by the issue, said: “I am really angry and I feel like we are having democracy eroded, it is our right to vote.

“Democracy should be sorted and we shouldn't have to worry about things like this. I think it makes the council look very unorganised and unprofessional. I feel it takes away the excitement as we were all quite excited about it and discussing who to vote for with friends and family. It’s so important and is the cornerstone of our country, I think the whole thing is pretty disgusting.”

READ MORE: The Essex town dubbed 'the greatest place in the world'

READ MORE: The Essex towns and villages that could be underwater in just 16 years

Peter Holt, chief executive of Uttlesford District Council, spoke to BBC Essex on Friday morning. When asked why they didn’t go out he replied: “Human error our end.

"Each constituency across the whole country, has been slightly changed in shape by the boundary commission and following that process, the quarter of the 80-odd thousands electors in this constituency who live in Chelmsford rather than the rest who live in Uttlesford, when we took those two lists and merged them together with our printers to send out the postal votes, just under thirteen thousands of those, the Chelmsford ones got subsumed underneath the rest the list and didn’t go out.

"That’s just an unacceptable human error, I’m mortified, I take full responsibility for it and I cannot apologise too much but I am making sure what all my team are doing is catching up, is getting those out to people. It is a big mess and I am not trying to gloss over that or minimise it.”

When asked if he needs to consider his positon he answered: “Honestly yes but I am going to do that after the election day because the last thing any of the voters in this constituency need between now and the election is fewer people with their hands to the pump fixing the issue, that’s a very fair challenge and ask me that again after the election and that’s exactly what I am going to have to do”

A council spokesman said: “ Anyone in these areas who has not yet received their postal vote should get it on Saturday, or Monday at the latest. This should still give enough time for ballot papers and forms to be returned – we would advise that they do not wait too long to post it back.

"Anyone who has not received their postal vote by Monday, should contact Uttlesford District Council on 01799 510510 to request a reissue of their ballot paper which we will hand deliver same day.

“If anyone is going on holiday and is concerned that their postal vote will not reach them in time, they should contact Uttlesford District Council as soon as possible so we can explore a solution, such as same day hand delivery.

“If anyone is worried that they have run out of time to send their vote by mail, they can also drop off your postal vote at any polling station in the constituency by 10pm on 4 July or to the main council offices in either Chelmsford or Saffron Walden."