South Holland’s counting officer for the EU Referendum has defended colleagues after a pensioner claimed he missed out on a postal vote.
We reported last Thursday that retired council officer Ron Laycock (72) claimed he lost his chance to vote because of mistakes made by South Holland District Council.
Mr Laycock, of Sutton Bridge, knew he would be on holiday on vote day and phoned the district council on June 1 to apply for a postal vote.
He asked for an application form, but claims he was told his phone call alone was sufficient – and his postal vote would be sent out.
Mr Laycock, who worked for local authorities in Glasgow and Motherwell, felt it was a strange interpretation of the rules and phoned back to double check but claims he got the same message.
His postal vote never arrived, so he didn’t have a vote.
The council said last week it had emailed a postal vote application form to Mr Laycock which he failed to return.
But Mr Laycock did not see any application form on his email and neither did the Spalding Guardian when we helped him check his computer.
However, yesterday council chief executive and returning officer Anna Graves said: “The aim of my elections staff is to ensure everyone who has the right to vote can do so.
“To ensure our electoral register is accurate, we follow due process so all those who are eligible can vote if they wish.
“Electors wishing to have a postal vote must adhere to legislative requirements and complete and return a postal vote application by the deadline – if this process is not adhered to the individual cannot receive a postal ballot pack.
“Mr Laycock was entitled to vote in the EU Referendum. He was registered, was on the electoral register and was not denied the opportunity by SHDC.
“In March 2016, Mr Laycock made an application for registration on www.gov.uk/register-to-vote , entering his email address as a means of communication. At that stage he did not request a postal vote, which he could have.
“Mr Laycock claims he spoke to the council on June 1 to apply for a postal vote and was told his phone call was sufficient – and his postal vote would be sent out on June 15 and be with him byJune 16.
“He spoke to the council customer services team on June 1, to request a postal vote. He was informed an application for a postal vote would be sent to him and the deadline for returning it to the council. The application request was actioned by elections staff who noted on his registration record that email was his preferred choice of correspondence.
“An application to vote by post was attached to an email sent by the council to Mr Laycock to his given email address on June 2.
“We received a delivery receipt on June 2, from Mr Laycock’s email confirming it had been delivered.
“The application delivered to Mr Laycock was not completed and returned to us by the deadline of June 8 and therefore he was not entitled to a postal vote.
“If Mr Laycock wishes to make a formal complaint he is entitled to do so. We will respond accordingly.”