The council rejected the first batch of polling cards on Thursday, April 11, after a party logo was incorrectly printed – agreeing with its printers Electoral Reform Services that these would be reprinted and the council would have a chance to review the proofs before being dispatched to voters.
However, last week Waverley discovered that the ‘corrected’ ballot papers had been dispatched without the council’s consent – and this time contained a further, potentially more damaging error.
A Waverley spokesman told the Herald: “Late on April 19, we started to learn from voters that the ballot papers were printed incorrectly. Firstly, the voter’s name on the label did not match that on the postal voting statement. And, secondly, the pagination was incorrect so that the ballot paper was on the reverse of the address label.”
As a result, most (but not all) of the 428 postal voters in Weybourne and Badshot Lea risked waiving their right to vote by secret ballot – with personal information usually separated from ballot papers before the count.
In a letter to the affected voters, Waverley chief executive Tom Horwood said the council’s printers “have taken full responsibility for the error”, but apologised on behalf of the council for “causing such an inconvenience”.
The Herald understands a third error occurred on Tuesday when the printers again printed names and addresses (mostly other people’s) on the back of the third batch of ballot papers – and also forgot to change the ‘instructions’, telling voters to put their original white ballot papers into the envelope instead of the reissued green papers.
However, at the fourth attempt new postal voting packs were sent out to postal voters on Wednesday this week.
Mr Horwood continued: “The town council ballot papers (on peach-coloured paper) were fine. No other ward has been affected and only Weybourne and Badshot Lea will use the green papers for borough elections.
“If you have already sent in your white postal vote papers for Weybourne and Badshot Lea, they will not be counted and you need to vote again on the new green papers.”
All postal votes need to be received by Waverley by 10pm on polling day – Thursday, May 2.