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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 June, 2004, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Ballot papers found under table
Ballot box
The ballot box was found an hour after the result was announced
A ballot box containing 200 votes has been found almost an hour after a local council ward result was announced.

The votes for a ward of Walsall Borough Council were found under a table at the town hall, and then counted.

But the returning officer refused to add them to the declared result, saying the outcome would not have changed.

Socialist Alliance candidate David Church labelled the decision a "sham", saying: "The 200 people who voted may just as well have stayed at home."

Investigation

After the error was announced, council chief executive Annie Shepperd declined to comment, except to issue a statement describing the events as unworthy of discussion.

The mix-up came after the final days of campaigning were marred in some areas of the country piloting all-postal votes by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation, which are being investigated by the police and the Electoral Commission.

An independent councillor in Hull has said he intends to mount a legal challenge against his election result.

John Hemming, Lib Dems leader in Birmingham, said he wanted some 500 votes from a key ward put aside for further scrutiny because he was not satisfied with how they had arrived at the count.

And two candidates in Slough were forced to roll a dice to decide the outcome of the election after two recounts failed to split them. The Tory beat the independent.


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