Gaffe that saw 528 homes in Northampton given wrong polling card could affect vote, candidate fears

Jill Hope fears the polling card mistake has left voters confused in the Sixfields ward.
Jill Hope fears the polling card mistake has left voters confused in the Sixfields ward.
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A candidate vying to reclaim her Northampton seat in the upcoming county council elections fears hundreds of people may not know where to vote, or who to vote for, after a swathe of homes received the wrong polling card.

In total, 528 houses in five streets in the Sixfields ward were incorrectly told they were in the Conservative-held Hunsbury and Shelfleys division when the wrong cards were sent out last month.

The borough corrected the mistake and issued a letter to those affected around the Galane Close area, shortly followed by the correct poling card.

But the current Liberal Democrat incumbent for Sixfields, Councillor Jill Hope, says the gaff has left voters confused - as homes have also been bombarded with election literature from both wards.

She said: "Today I had a call from a supporter in Marlestones in West Hunsbury, telling me he’s had a polling card from the borough telling him he’s in East Hunsbury and Shelfleys Division.

"He’s also had election literature from Andre Gonzales de Savage who’s standing for the Conservatives in East Hunsbury and Shelfleys Division.

"But Marlestones is in Sixfields Division where it has been for the past four years."

A spokeswoman from Northampton Borough Council said the mistake was made due to changes in the ward boundaries.

“The poll cards issued to electors across Northampton were based on the March 1 Electoral Register," she said. "Due to boundary changes implemented after March 1, it was necessary to issue amended poll cards to electors in 528 properties affected by that change.

"Electors have been told clearly where they should attend to vote in person and no-one’s right to vote is in any way affected.”

But Councillor Hope believes it could have a real impact on the outcome of the vote as some may not have seen the re-issued polling card and may not be aware they are still in Sixfields. This comes at a time postal voting packs are being delivered around the county.

She said: "Now that polling cards have gone out this is a complete disaster. Voters won’t know where they stand and the postal votes go out this week.

"What a shambles. The Borough Council had one job."

Conservative group leader Heather Smith said the delivery of the election literature was an innocent mistake based on the way the polling cards handed out and has apologised for any confusion.