Councillor ‘shocked’ as dead dauhter is sent polling card
PUBLISHED: 10:48 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:48 09 April 2013
A polling card for May’s county elections has been sent to a dead mum-of-three while some residents are being sent them twice and thousands more are not even registered.
Former mayor Eileen Wragg, while door-knocking during the recent by-election campaign, counted 23 homes in just a short-stretch of Victoria Road that did not have a single registered voter.
And this week her council colleague Steve Gazzard said he was ‘shocked’ when his daughter Sarah Wright was sent a polling card despite her death five months ago.
However, conversly, a voter in Budleigh Salterton who died just a month ago, was automatically removed from the electoral role.
Cllr Wragg has now written to Mark Williams, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) chief executive questioning if the register is being updated.
Every October electoral registration forms are sent to every home and, if a reply is not received, council officers are supposed to visit. She said: “This could be the tip of a very large iceberg.
“My main concern is if there is a fire. If the register isn’t accurate how can the emergency services know who is living there?
“There was an explosion in Victoria Road a few years back. Firefighters had to break down doors to just see if people were in the properties.”
The problem, she said, has worsened because of the numbers of homes being sub-divided into flats and she has been told by some tenants that landlords have asked them not to vote to save them paying council tax.
Labour’s county candidate Ray Davison said he did not think the problem was any worse than in any other parts of the UK while Tory deputy mayor Bill Nash said there was a huge problem.
An EDDC spokesman said: “Unfortunately, whilst the council was corporately aware of the situation (Sarah’s death) and had in fact supported Councillor Gazzard’s organ donor campaign, the fact that his daughter had a different surname meant this was not picked up in the elections office.
“With regard to polling cards, experience shows that these are sometimes not correctly delivered and residents are advised to contact us if their card does not come through.
“This year, a small batch of polling cards was double-handled and we apologise for this oversight.”
He added that there were many reasons why some homes were not registered, including second homes and student accommodation, in which case Council Tax may be not payable.
He added that a new national system of electoral registration will soon come into force which tracks people of voter age not just households.