Apology issued over error on 63,000 poll cards

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An apology has been issued to over 63,000 voters in the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency ahead of next Thursday’s General Election.

They have received a letter from Mark Dickson, Scottish Borders Council’s Electoral Registration Officer, which corrects an error – relating to emergency proxy votes – printed on the official poll cards issued last month.

The letters, sent out at the end of last week via the independent carrier UK Mail Group from a PO Box in Huddersfield, inform voters that if, after 5pm on Tuesday, April 28, they are unable to cast their vote in person because of a medical emergency or because they discover they cannot get to a polling station for work reasons, then they can apply to vote by proxy.

This is at odds with the information printed on the polling card which says the cut-off time for such eligibility is 5pm on Wednesday, May 6.

“Please accept our apologies for this printing error,” states Mr Dickson, who tells voters that if they have met the April 28 deadline, then completed proxy vote applications must reach his department by 5pm on polling day (May 7).

An explanatory statement issued by the council on Friday stated that those who missed this week’s deadline and still wish a proxy vote should call a helpline number – 0300 100 800.

“Letters have been sent to all affected electors to correct this mistake,” said a council spokesperson.

“This was an error by the external printers [Adare Inspired Communications of Huddersfield] and the letters have been sent at no cost to the council.

“It is essential that all voters have the correct information relating to the election to ensure no voter misses their opportunity to vote.”

The spokesperson confirmed that 63,691 voters – out of an estimated registered electorate of around 75,000 – had received the letters.

“As far as we are aware this [error] only affected this constituency,” added the spokesperson.

It is not the first time printing issues have impacted on elections in the Borders.

Ahead of last year’s Scottish Independence referendum, the Southern highlighted the case of a Galashiels reader who registered as an absent voter on August 21 and expected to receive his postal vote ballot paper by the official due date of September.

In the event, the ballot paper had not arrived by the time he embarked on a pre-arranged holiday to Greece on September 9 and he was thus unable to cast his vote on September 18.

At the time, the council cited an unprecedented surge in postal vote applications, explaining: “The external printing company used by SBC … faced a very slight delay in getting this latest batch of postal vote ballot papers out due to this high demand.”