Bid to prevent vote chaos

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A SERIES of recommendations drawn up after polling station chaos in Sheffield at last year’s General Election are to be put in place for the May local elections.

Officers are to implement 10 measures to prevent a repeat of scenes which saw hundreds of angry voters unable to cast their votes because of long queues at polling stations.

Officials admitted they were caught out by what they said was a “higher than expected turnout”.

The situation caused embarrassment for council chief executive John Mothersole, who volunteered to forfeit his £20,000 returning officer fee.

He was responsible for the polling stations.

The 10-point plan, drawn up last October, is supposed to improve capacity at polling stations and ensure there are enough staff to cater for the numbers of people expected to turn up, particularly during the evening rush.

Recommendations have now been developed further by electoral services officers to deal with the potential of a referendum on the UK’s voting system, which could take place in tandem with local and parish elections scheduled for this May.

Sheffield Council’s director of modern governance, Alistair Griggs, said the improvements would cost £46,050 for the May elections this year.

He admitted the figure was higher than for a national election, but added that some costs would be met by central government.

Mr Mothersole has vowed mistakes made on election night last year in Sheffield will “never happen again”.