Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Havering Council havers over voter registration

I thought I'd just quickly slip in a "bureaucracy gone mad" story before sloping off to bed cos I'm about to collapse in a heap.

The deadline for voter registration passed yesterday so now it's too late to get a vote. In an attempt to encourage people to sign up, the Electoral Commission set up the About my Vote website to make the process very easy. All a would be voter had to do was download a form, print it off, fill it in and send it off to their council. Simples...

Or at least it was until the bureaucrats at Havering Council decided that they wouldn't accept the Electoral Commission's form. They decided that their form was better and the one produced by the people who run elections in this country just wasn't good enough, and open to fraud. Excuse me, but how on earth does the same information being filled in on an Electoral Commission, rather than a local, form make the information any more true?

They had a slight change of heart this week but still require voters to complete a second form within 5 days. I do hope that nobody has lost the right to vote as a result of their over zealousness.

I've come across this sort of jobsworth approach before. In 2007 I was in charge of sorting out the nominating process and I had to soothe one candidate who almost produced a litter of kittens after their nomination was turned down because it wasn't on that Council's form. They had downloaded the Electoral Commission form which had a tiny technical error in the small print, referring to the wrong paragraph in the legislation. The RO in question was the only one in Scotland to turn that form down.

Liberal Democrat Voice have more information here.

Just as a matter of interest, the best Council I have ever known for professional, fair, clear election prep and support is West Lothian. They have pre-election briefings for all candidates and agents where they take you through all the forms and the processes and are always willing to help out with questions. I wonder if Havering want to send some people north for a bit of training from Alex Linkston and his excellent staff. It sounds like they need it.

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