Topsy-turvy voting in Hackney election as woman is allowed to use husband’s polling card

elections©DA18: Labour campaigner on election day in Dalston Hackney E8 2EP 030518 ©
Local election: canvassers outside a Dalston ward polling station at Colvestone school
elections©DA16: panic in Colveston Cres Primary School bcs of vote-card confusion on election day in Dalston Hackney E8 2EP 030518@ 1759 ©
Kerfuffle: worried clerks at the polling station try to resolve the problem of a man who has already voted and apparently wants to vote again

HOW EASY IS IT to vote twice in elections? Very easy, to judge from an incident in Hackney in the 2018 local elections.

On the morning of last Thursday 3 May, a Dalston businesswoman went to Colvestone Primary School to cast her vote. Rowena Bond showed her polling card, watched as a clerk ticked off her name, then went into the booth, where she pencilled in her verdict on the candidates.

A few hours later, her husband, a media worker with the same surname, went to vote, and gave his name, only to be told he had already voted. 

When he produced his polling card he realised that his wife had mistakenly picked up the wrong card from the kitchen table and he had hers.

The clerk had, presumably, failed to notice that his wife, clearly a woman, was voting in the name of a man called David, a common christian name —  for a male.

elections©DA18c Colveston Cres Primary School in Dalston Hackney E8 vote cards 030518@ 1759 ©
X marks the choice (but a preference was required for the mayoral vote)

Cue panic and apologies from the presiding officer. After some kerfuffle among the clerks and more apologies, the error was, they said, corrected, although they would not say how. Scribbled comments from the presiding officer; rubbing-out of pencilled entries? One can but guess. 

Regardless, if the amendments made were not accepted during the count at Hackney town hall that evening, Greens candidate Alex Armitage the runner-up to sitting member Peter Snell of Labour, might feel miffed, given the closeness of the count: Dr Armitage lost by 21 votes.

The Bonds could have voted twice…. or perhaps more often. Did other registered voters take advantage of monitoring inadequacies by polling-station clerks? 

Perhaps returning officer Tim Shields, who doubles as Hackney council’s £200,000-plus-a-year chief executive, should investigate.

Hamish Scott 080518

* Backstory: Hackney election count fiasco; Hackney council’s Rich List; Hackney Labour is ‘great’ – says Hackney Labour 

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