Poll card blunder causes last minute confusion for voters across Sheffield

The Bank View Cafe in Sheffield is one of the more unusual polling stations.
The Bank View Cafe in Sheffield is one of the more unusual polling stations.
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A blunder on polling cards caused last minute confusion for scores of voters across Sheffield this week.

As tens of thousands of people cast their vote across the city today a number of residents told how they received a poll card for the local elections to elect councillors instead of one for the general election to vote for MPs.

Sheffield Council accepted the mistake and sought to reassure residents that it would not affect how they vote. This also comes after it emerged nearly 250 postal ballots had to be reissued to the public after voters misplaced them or they failed to deliver.

But the blunder on the document - which gives important details such as the date of election, location of polling station and voter number - caused confusion among some voters.

Sarah Marshall, aged 29, who lives in the Sheffield Central constituency, said: "This could create a bit of confusion about whether the polling cards sent out are actually for this year's election which is a bit worrying."

The council apologised for the error in an email sent out to voters earlier this week.

In the message, John Tomlinson, electoral services manager, said: "You should have recently received a poll card for the election this Thursday, June 8.

"Unfortunately the text in the top left of the card is about election of councillors. It should have been about the election of a member of parliament.

"I am very sorry about the mistake. I am writing to reassure you that you are registered to vote in the general election this Thursday at the polling station mentioned on the card."

Sheffield has a population of over 500, 000 people and more than 429, 000 are registered to vote. However, the authority has not revealed how many of the poll cards containing the error were sent out.

James Henderson, deputy acting returning officer, said: “We are sorry that this mistake has happened, and want to reassure everyone that this will not affect your ability to vote.

"All the other details on the polling cards are correct and will tell you which polling station you are registered to vote at and the polling station’s opening hours.

“We have contacted everyone who has received the incorrect card to alert them to the mistake. We encourage everyone to go out and vote.”

Voters do not need to bring their poll cards to the polling station. Just give the people at the desk your name and address and they will check it against the electoral register.

In addition, the council said they have had to reissue 245 postal ballots due to them being lost by voters or undelivered.

A council spokeswoman said there has been 90, 966 postal votes cast this year and the number of lost postal ballots reissued is roughly in line with the number send out at previous elections.

She added: "The reissued ballots were requested by individuals who contacted us because they had either lost them or said they had not received them.

"Some had already returned them and forgotten. We did not have any problems sending the ballots out, we sent out an initial posting on May 22 and the rest on May 30."