Former Milcombe man fears a mess-up may prevent his EU vote being counted

Roy Parker, who fears his postal vote may not reach Banbury from Spain in time for the count
Roy Parker, who fears his postal vote may not reach Banbury from Spain in time for the count

A former Milcombe man, now living in Spain, fears his postal vote may not arrive in time because of a registration mix-up at Cherwell District Council.

Roy Parker, who lives in Torrevieja, southern Spain sent registration papers to the elections office at Bodicote House in December.

Because he had lost his vote in the General Election he telephoned the council to check that he had been included on the electoral roll for next week’s referendum.

“I was really shocked to find out that I was not,” he said.

“I was able to find the email on which I had scanned my registration form and the staff in the elections office apologised and put me on the roll.

“But that wasn’t the end of it. I started to get a bit worried as I hadn’t got my voting papers and found there was another delay because of the registration extension.

“I received an apology and an assurance that the printers would be sending the papers out at the weekend.

“But sending it out at the weekend is cutting it very fine. This will probably mean I will not get it until approximately Friday, June 17.

“I have decided that even though it come with a postage paid envelope, I will have to send it back registered post to ensure delivery.” said Mr Parker.

“I will be furious if I dont get my vote,especially when I see in the news that more than 3465 voting papers have been sent to people not even entitled to vote .”

Mr Parker was told by the Cherwell elections team the confusion over his registration had happened at a particularly busy time when the department was finishing the annual audit - a canvass of every property in Cherwell and South Northamptonshire - as well as a huge boundary review for Cherwell which altered thousands of properties on the register.

Mr Parker is one of many ex-pats who fear that if Britain leaves the EU it will threaten the freedom in which they live on the continent.

Some 4.5 million Britons live abroad, all of whom can vote in the referendum and 1.3 million who live within Europe and for whom the result could have far reaching consequences.

Mr Parker said reports of complaints of ex-pats not receiving their voting papers were coming to light daily on internet forums in Spain.

Cherwell press spokesman Jemma Callow said: “Unfortunately despite being received the application form was not processed. The Elections Section handles tens of thousands of forms each year. Tight controls and processes are in place, however, with such a large volume of forms and data, it is not possible to completely prevent occasional administrative errors as was the case here.

“We have apologised. As soon as we were made aware of the situation we discussed the available options and have included his postal vote in the second dispatch of postal votes (that is all postal voters who registered after our first dispatch print deadline of April 25) to be sent out on Monday.

“Postal votes have to be sent out in three dispatches due to the deadlines for registration, coupled with the volume and specialist printing required.

“All postal votes received up to April 25 (12,923) were sent out on 31 May 31, Those received after 25 April 25 (3,082) have been sent out today (June 13).

“Those electors who applied on the last days of registration and we are waiting for their details to be verified by the Department of Work and Pensions are sent out following the five-day objection period after their details are confirmed.

“This situation was particular to this elector. We have sent out and received back many postal votes from abroad already and continue to receive these daily.”

Ms Callow said the council had sent out 452 papers overseas currently and has 16,552 postal votes in total.

“For this election which does not include any European voters we have 108,145 eligible electorate with 16,145 postal voters and 523 proxy voters although proxy deadline is not until 5pm on June 15 so this is currently increasing.

“Completed cast votes have to be sent back via post. There is no provision in legislation to allow any form of electronic voting or sending ballot papers by e-mail,” she said.