A CANDIDATE who failed to win a seat in Denbighshire at last week’s local elections believes the council’s postal ballot error proved to his detriment.

Noel Martin stood for election for the first time, in the Ty Newydd ward in Rhyl, but failed to win either of the two seats out of the four candidates standing.

The elections on May 5 followed an error from Denbighshire County Council regarding an information sheet recently issued with postal ballot papers.

The sheet referred to the wrong ballot papers, and informed voters that they can vote for one candidate only.

This, of course, was not the case for multi-member wards, such as that which Mr Martin was standing for election in.

The council swiftly apologised for the error and took numerous steps to rectify it, including contacting almost 7,000 postal voters to inform them of the situation.

And while Mr Martin DCC recognised its mistake, he is still critical of the way it was dealt with, adding that he felt it had a negative impact on him and other candidates who did not win.

He said: “It doesn’t matter what party you stood for, it’s crackers that you have this sort of thing happening in an authority.”

Asked if he had had any dialogue with DCC about it, he said: “I haven’t as yet.”

Mr Martin added: “One of my neighbours said he had got the letter basically on the day of the vote, but because he was a postal voter, it (deadline) had gone anyway, and that they didn’t even put a slip in to send another voting form.

“Everyone’s assuming that, if they had done that, they would have doubled up on votes, and it all would have been a mess.”

Asked if he felt it impacted his chances of winning, he said: “I do, but it’s one of those things that you can’t prove; it would cost an arm and a leg to challenge it now.

“I think they should have acted straight away and sent out voting forms again, even if it meant a different PIN number to recognise the vote for the household, rather than an airy-fairy ‘can we get away with it?’ approach.

“People may only have put one vote in, instead of being able select two.

“I definitely think I’ve lost out, but you can equally say to anybody else (who stood); I think we’re all affected.”


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Of the four candidates standing for election in the Ty Newydd ward, Mr Martin received the fewest votes (396).

He and his fellow Welsh Conservatives candidate, Brian Jones (465), failed to win either of the two seats, which went to Brian Blakeley (682) and Cheryl Williams (612), both of Welsh Labour.

Graham Boase, chief executive of Denbighshire County Council and returning officer, outlined in response to Mr Martin’s comments the extent to which the authority went to correct its previous mistake.

He said: “The error came to light the day we sent out the postal ballots and our immediate focus was taking every mitigating action we could to rectify the error, and to apologise to the public and the candidates for any confusion the error may have caused.

“We sought advice from and worked with the Electoral Commission and the Association of Electoral Administrators and we sent an email to 6,900 people and text message to every postal voter that had provided us with those details.

“Information also appeared on the council’s website and through its social media channels to provide similar information and advice.

“This resulted in the press carrying a number of stories, which also helped alert the public to the error.

“As soon as we could, we also sent out letters to everyone who had received a postal vote advising them of the error.

“We also wrote to all the candidates standing for election, so during their canvassing activities they could also alert those who had requested a postal ballot.

“The error was in the information sheet which was included with the postal ballot pack and referred to the wrong ballot papers and indicated that voters could vote for only one candidate which was clearly incorrect for multi-member wards and for town and community council elections.

“Importantly, the postal vote packs contained the correct ballot papers for each voter.

“There was no error on the ballot papers - they were printed correctly and contain appropriate instructions to voters on the number of votes that they may cast.

“It is our experience that most voters follow the instructions on the ballot paper itself.

“In our communications with the postal voters, we provided contact details so they could discuss any uncertainty and offered to re-issue postal ballot papers to anyone who thought the error had influenced the number of votes they had cast.

“We had 15 requests to reissue postal ballot papers from Denbighshire postal voters due to these people been unsure regarding the incorrect advice on the information sheet.

“All 15 requests were actioned, with their initial return cancelled and a new postal ballot issued.

“Since the error came to light, I have carefully considered our response, and the advice received from the Electoral Commission and believe that, given the ballot papers contained the correct instructions to voters, the package of mitigation measures was appropriate.”

In addition, Mr Jones added: “Denbighshire County Council outlined their mitigation measures when the voting error came to light.

“These measures were accepted by the Electoral Commission.”

Cllr Blakeley added: "It was a mistake by the council and shouldn't have happened, admittedly, but it was only on the information sheet.

"The correct information was on the polling sheets at the time, and it was clear how many people to vote for.

"I do feel it could have affected one or two people, but looking at the results that I've seen, I don't feel it has made a great deal of difference.

"There was a mistake, but I know the council did go out of their way to try and correct this within the time scale that it had."