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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Postal voters mistakenly sent two ballots in two regional wards ahead of 2 May elections

Postal voters in two Tyneside council wards have been mistakenly sent duplicate ballots, sparking measures to safeguard upcoming elections on 2 May.

Some registered postal voters in Cullercoats and Whitley Bay South ward in North Tynside and North Jesmond ward in Newcastle, have been issued with more than one voting bundle. In addition, postal voters in Jesmond North were also issued a second incorrect cover letter informing them they could vote for two candidates on 2 May.

A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “A supplier issue has led to postal voters in the North Jesmond ward receiving a second voting pack for the upcoming elections in error. While the ballot sheet for the Local Government Election is correct in both packs, the second pack issued contains incorrect instructions on the covering letter issued alongside the ballot paper.

“We were notified of this supplier error and have quickly put measures in place, in cooperation with the Electoral Commission and candidates, agents and existing members in the sole affected ward, to clarify instructions and to support our residents to vote.

“We are contacting all affected voters directly to rectify the issue and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Jesmond North has long been a volatile swing ward in Newcastle between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In the 2021 and 2022 local elections Labour managed to edge out the Liberal Democrats by just 50, then 40 votes.

However, in 2023, two seats were up for election following the resignation of Labour councillor Stella Postlethwaite. The incumbent Lib Dem Gerry Keating and then-hopeful Philip Browne were elected, finishing more than 700 votes ahead of the nearest Labour candidate.

The most recent Lib Dem gain has been attributed to local anger regarding Newcastle Council’s implementation and handling of a controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood in the ward. The LTN bollards were later removed by the local authority in February of this year.

North Tyneside Council’s returning Officer, Paul Hanson said: “A supplier issue has resulted in two postal voting packs being printed and distributed for the Cullercoats and Whitley Bay South ward. One of the ballot papers has a typo and should not have been sent. No other wards in North Tyneside have been affected.

“We were notified of this printing error and have quickly put robust measures in place, in cooperation with the Electoral Commission, to ensure only one vote will count. We are contacting those directly affected to rectify the issue, and have written to all postal voters in the ward to explain and clarify. I am sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

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