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Voters were locked out of Northampton polling station because it was closed due to “anti-social behaviour”

Northampton: Guild hall ballot box
A mock up of a voter in the ballot in Northampton Guild hall.
Wednesday, 3rd June 2009 ENGNNL00120110304191401

Northampton: Guild hall ballot box A mock up of a voter in the ballot in Northampton Guild hall. Wednesday, 3rd June 2009 ENGNNL00120110304191401

 

Northampton Borough Council said it would be “reviewing its procedures” for future elections after admitting that voters were locked out of polling station during this year’s European elections.

The local authority received a complaint from prospective candidate for Northampton North Sally Keeble after she was told by residents the polling station in Blackthorn Good Neighbours’ Centre was locked when they went to cast their votes at around 5.45pm on May 22.

Mrs Keeble said the residents told her they had rung the doorbell several times but nobody came to let them in, causing some to give up and go home without voting.

In a letter replying to Mrs Keeble, a council spokesman admitted the polling station had been locked and the reception desk had been left unattended.

The letter states: “The presiding officers decided to lock the front door because of reports of anti-social behaviour in the area and placed a member of staff at reception to allow access to people who wanted to get into the building to vote.

“Those officers accept that there may have been occasions when the desk was unattended.

“Their actions were not appropriate and the door should have been unlocked at all times. Had they called for assistance, we would have advised them to not to leave the reception.

“We will be reviewing our procedures and officer training and, if anti-social behaviour continues to cause a problem, we may put an extra member of staff on the door.”

Following the event, Mrs Keeble said that she welcomed the apology by the council and has appealed to change the venue of the Blackthorn polling station.

She said: “The ballot boxes at the centre are in different rooms, meaning that when it got busy, officers had to spread across rooms.

“Security should have been thought about beforehand so, what we need now, is a new or mobile polling station.

“It is very important that everyone gets a chance to vote. The next elections will be the general and council ones and we can’t have people locked out of that.”

 

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