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BBC Election 2005

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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Did you have problems voting?
Postal vote in envelope
Election watchdogs have demanded greater protection against postal voting fraud.

Electoral Commission chairman, Sam Younger, said that voter registration needed to be improved.

He recommended that people be asked to produce a signature and an address when they turn up to vote.

Radio 4 presenter Mariella Frostrup told the Today programme that she had been unable to vote because of postal vote fraud.

Did you have difficulties at the polling station? Or did you experience any problems in using your postal vote? Do you think the electoral system is secure?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

My local register office told me I cannot vote as I hold dual nationality, though I am a British citizen
GH, Edinburgh, Scotland
I have been a British Citizen for 14 years, I have dual nationality and been a UK Resident for 10 years. I was educated in the UK, paid taxes and Council tax for 6 years, have voted in the past in the UK. But this time round my local register office told me I cannot vote as I hold dual nationality, though I am a British citizen! Should I get a council tax rebate for not having my say?
GH, Edinburgh, Scotland

We registered as overseas voters a few months ago. When we contacted the council to ask when postal voting forms would be sent out the answer was 26th April - clearly not enough time for us to receive them and send them back. My husband's voting form arrived on election day, I'm still waiting for mine.
Sara (a Brit in the USA)

My polling card did not arrive until 2 days after the election. On ringing I was told that they were inundated with people who did not receive their cards. I did not realise until I spoke to them that I could vote without the card. How many other people did not realise and did not turn up. Also, if the polling cards went astray, what happened to postal votes?
Sue Hill, Leeds

I was nearly allowed to vote for both County Council and General elections. Being French, I should only be allowed to vote for the local and European. Although it would not have tipped the elections as the new MP has a sizeable majority.
Pascal Jacquemain, Welwyn Garden City, UK

As far as I'm concerned the General Election of 2005 is null and void
Oliver Adams, Godalming, UK
Having read this page, I now feel as though I retained the right to vote in this election through sheer luck. The BBC should make a documentary about this because as far as I'm concerned the General Election of 2005 is null and void.
Oliver Adams, Godalming, UK

We got voting papers for three people who moved out over six months ago. It didn't matter that I'd told the council that when I applied to be added to the electoral roll. Apparently since these three haven't applied elsewhere they'll still be on the electoral roll for my house until they do. They're probably getting me associated with bad debts by now.
Helen, Chelmsford

No problems - it was the lack of choice that was the problem!
Andy, UK

I had to drive nearly 200 miles to vote because of bureaucratic mess ups. Leaving late following a flat battery and breaking speed limits everywhere, I was successfully held up by traffic on the M6 and thus 5 minutes late. Never mind my MP increased her majority and at least the pub closed an hour after the polls.
Anon, England

I live in Paris and applied for a postal vote well in time. Despite receiving a letter confirming that my postal ballot was on its way, I'm still waiting and I'm still fuming.
C-A Drewett, Paris, France

I objected to having to use a pencil to make my all important mark. It has been proved that our electoral system is not secure.
Janet Kelly, Hixon Stafford

Even though I've been paying my council tax, I wasn't put on the electoral register
Mario, Beckenham
Even though I've been paying my council tax, I wasn't put on the electoral register. I arrived at the polling station, holding proof of my address but the previous owner of my flat was on the register and so they refused to give me a ballot paper. They treated me like dirt and practically just told me to go away. This is not democracy. I made the effort to vote and couldn't cast my vote for the Lib Dems. I wonder if the Conservative council knows what I've voted for in the past and just made it impossible for me to vote this time. I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Mario, Beckenham

My wife and I used our postal votes. It was not problematic and saved us the time plus the expense of driving miles to the polling station.
Richard Jones, Culverstone Green, Kent, England

I applied for a postal vote as I'm living in France, but my papers did not arrive (and still haven't) so I could not vote. I'm not impressed, especially as I vote in a marginal constituency.
Susan, France

Both my parents requested that I should be able to proxy vote for them as they are out of the country. Having received nothing earlier this week I went through their mail to find that they had both been sent postal votes which of course could not be got to them and completed in time.
Jacqui, Solihull, UK

I thought the days of 'rotten boroughs' and cheating were long gone
Suzi, Fareham, Hants
I can't believe so many people were unable to vote. I thought the days of 'rotten boroughs' and cheating were long gone. I haven't put my surname on this because if it does go as far as a recount then I suppose anyone who criticises yesterday's result will be straight off the register!
Suzi, Fareham, Hants

I think the postal votes system is a disgrace - I had 32 votes registered to my house and even then I wasn't able to ensure victory for the Communist Party candidate in Hackney. What would Stalin say?
Jamie, Hackney, London, UK

My 17-year-old son got a vote, how many more were there?
Sarah, Kent

In Slough they had to re-issue all the polling cards because they'd dated them 2004!

I have serious doubts about the organisation of the election. While many seem to have been denied their right to vote I was given it despite being fairly sure I should not have been allowed to vote in the parliamentary election since I am an EC citizen. The officer, however, was insistent on checking her register that I should have both ballot papers. I also find the use of pencils extremely strange and wonder about potential abuse.
Simone, Durham

I received somebody else's postal ballot papers just before the bank holiday
Gill Ferrell, Blaydon, UK
I received somebody else's postal ballot papers just before the bank holiday. I rang Royal Mail to tell them about the problem and requested they collect the papers in order to get them to the right address on time. They agreed to do so but didn't. I put them back in the post on Saturday but goodness knows whether they arrived in time.
Gill Ferrell, Blaydon, UK

This time I voted, but last time I and my fiancÚ had been mysteriously removed for the register. Not even my MP would help.
Jane Quinn, London

I went to the polling station to be told, no that's a postal vote. You can't do it here and you have to get it witnessed. That's all very good but everyone was out. I had to get a random person to sign it after I had showed them ID, they then accepted it at the station and sent it for me.
Michaela, Surrey

It has been a year since I have sent off our voters' registration form, yet we find my partner is still not on the electoral roll. As a consequence of this she missed out on her vote.
MBB, Slough, UK

Postal votes failed to arrive. When I called the council I was told it was too late to do anything about it. So next time I will take the time off work and vote at a polling station.
Nic Hobson, Coventry

I work away from home during the week, so a postal vote is crucial for me
Kaye, Leeds, UK
I work away from home during the week, so a postal vote is crucial for me. This year I double checked, but had not been registered for the postal vote. Despite this oversight, I have nothing but praise for Leeds City Council, who gave me detailed instructions on how to apply for postal voting with only 48 hours till the deadline, and even managed to get my postal ballot out to me three days later. Well done Leeds!
Kaye, Leeds, UK

I moved house but called my council to see if I could still vote or if I'd have to travel from London to Leicester to do it and was assured I could. Then at the polling booth I was turned away and told that would never be allowed. Thanks Barnett Council for denying me my right to vote with misadvise.
Gavin, London, UK

My parents registered for postal voting because they were going on holiday. However the voting forms only arrived on Tuesday, two days before the election! Also my dad received two postal voting forms, and both of them received normal ballot papers!
Kat, Leeds

Mine and my partner's votes were smooth, but it is very worrying that the result really was so close that had everyone got their cards and postal ballots, the outcome might have been different. Mr Blunkett seemed to know the outcome very early on in the count when it was still anyone's game!
Nick, Kent

When I had not received my polling card I called up Tower Hamlets Council and was told I was not on the electoral roll. When I asked how can that happen since I voted last year in the European and local elections, they said that when canvassing address's the people must have decided that my address doesn't exist! He found me on the electoral roll for last year and had no decent reason for me being taken off other than an administrative mistake. If I had missed paying my council tax I'm sure they would have noticed my address exists straight away.
Tim Pyke, London

My dad went to vote yesterday evening and called me at their home to say he had already voted according to the list. I had to take his polling card along, for them to tell him he still couldn't vote until they had heard from the Electoral Commission, I think maybe it's time for ID to be asked for at elections
Julie, Glasgow

I went along to vote yesterday with my official card and was told I had already voted, more than likely by an impostor
Astrid Fisher, Brighton, UK
I went along to vote yesterday with my official card and was told I had already voted, more than likely by an impostor. I have never voted before so would be interested to find out if an impostor has voted on my behalf in previous years and who is behind this fraudulent behaviour. According to the official, all you have to give is your name and address, no need for ID to vote.
Astrid Fisher, Brighton, UK

My husband and I went to vote at our polling station last night to find that we had been taken off the voting list and were not entitled to vote! We have lived in our house since 1978 and have voted in every election. In a city that has seen the most appalling vote fraud I feel outraged that I have been disenfranchised in this way!
Marion Harris, Birmingham, England

We were in the unfortunate position of turning up at the polling station and not being able to vote, as we had been removed from the electoral roll, in spite of living at the same address for seven years and returning the electoral register form in October. The presiding officer treated us like dirt. How many more people across the country have been denied the right to vote, by being "removed" from the register? Disgusted. I don't think we'll ever bother again.
Ashley Pinn, Baldock, Herts

I would like to know just what is going on. My wife and I received ballot papers for our local candidate then only I received a ballot paper from Mendip council. I contacted them three times by phone and e-mail and got no reply. How many more in Sedgemoor did or did not receive ballot papers and why? What is going on?
K Hawkes, Highbridge, Somerset

There is something wrong with the postal vote system in this country
Brian Turner, Wallasey, England
There is something wrong with the postal vote system in this country. My mother never asked for a postal vote but received one. How can that be?
Brian Turner, Wallasey, England

Dear Sirs, despite having arranged through the electoral office in Halifax, West Yorkshire for a postal vote for each of our two children who are now residing in temporary accommodation in London, where they are both now working they have been unable to vote. In the case of our daughter she received voting details but no actual voting paper. On enquiring, by phone with Halifax electoral office she was curtly informed that nothing could be done unless she returned personally to Halifax. In the case of our son no voting papers where issued. One wonders in view of the ever increasing voting frauds whether this is merely the fault of an incompetent staff or what? Equally whereas my husband and I arranged with the same electoral office for proxy votes to facilitate our absence from UK at the present time, full voting papers were redirected to us at our holiday address, in France. Is this typical of the current mess?
Marina Ward, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Many people in the Armed Forces did not get to vote, postal and proxy voting forms were sent to the wrong addresses, those of us on detachment did not get the opportunity to vote at all. In my view the Labour Party made sure that we do not have a voice.
Adele Gerarrd, Alnwick, UK

For the first time in my mother's voting life, she was unable to vote! Due to not receiving voting papers, this has also happened with other family members and friends. I don't think this has had a huge effect on Labour's shrunken majority, but it once again shows how Labour have lost touch with the electorate, how arrogant Tony Blair is and the Iraq war has played a part in either lack of voting or voting Liberal.
Theresa Easton, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

I left two messages on the electoral help line at the London Borough of Ealing requesting details of how to obtain a postal vote for my Mother (90 years old) who was in hospital. No-one contacted me so in desperation I contacted our MP and he very quickly arranged for me to receive an application form - I completed the form and returned the same within the specified time period - my mother did not hear further and as a result was unable to cast her vote.
Pauline, London, UK

We have to ask ourselves big questions why some people find it necessary to cheat the system by forging postal votes
Alexander Jessey, Windsor
Both myself and one other person in my family did not receive our polling cards, even though we followed the correct procedure for registration. This is exceptionally disappointing, especially when I know that this type of problem occurs elsewhere and that other people have also been denied the chance to vote. To add to this, I think we have to ask ourselves big questions why some people find it necessary to cheat the system by forging postal votes and what this represents about the type of society we lead.
Alexander Jessey, Windsor

My fiance and I contacted Hounslow council early this week after not receiving voting cards. We were told we were on the electoral roll but that lots of cards had been 'lost in the post' and to just turn up with ID. Upon doing so yesterday, we were told we were only eligible to vote in local elections and not parliamentary ones. Today I have contacted Hounslow Council again, to be told it was a 'clerical error'. I did not even receive an apology! And what happened to my voting card I wonder? The voting should be re-run - not only in Hounslow but anywhere else where there is the slightest doubt about the fairness of the voting system. We should be setting an example to other countries not joining them in corrupt elections.
Claire Faulkner, Feltham, England

I found it really bizarre that ballots in Finchley were to be marked by pencil! Why not black ink?
Bob Duffy, London, UK

I find all this a bit bemusing, I don't know anyone who had any problems. Postal voting is for people who are too lazy to go to the polling station and whinge about it not going right! I had a nice stroll down the road to my local community centre, walked straight in, voted and walked straight out. I went at a time where it wouldn't be busy (they were open until 10pm) Sure there were isolated incidents of problems, but come on, 40 million potential voters and so far 12 posts on here with problems? Not bad if you ask me.
Pete, Macclesfield

I did three shifts as a teller (outside polling stations) in North Kensington yesterday. We write down the polling card numbers of people who have voted in order to get an early idea of turn-out and to avoid 'knocking up' anyone who has already cast their vote. So many people told me that they hadn't been sent a polling card I decided to count them up, and found that roughly 24% of voters I saw had not received a card. That's pretty much a quarter of voters! Several were worried they might not be able to vote, though at least they turned up to give it a go and I admire and respect that. But I wonder how many didn't bother, or thought they couldn't vote without a card? This must have skewed the figures. And if you can turn up at the polling station with no card and just give your name and address to get a vote, how many people will have used false identities to cast illegal votes? This is just another farcical aspect of the election and it fuels my doubts about our electoral system.
Frances Owen, London

My son and myself both sent application forms for a postal vote in the same envelope. I received a postal vote my son didn't? We rang up and received an admission of guilt but my son was still not able to vote.
Peter Loftus, Filey, North Yorks

I was unable to vote, despite having returned all the forms on time - because the Council had lost them. This was only discovered after 11 March meaning I could not vote in the general election. They admitted they would have sent me reminders if they had not received my form - which they never did, proving that they did receive the forms and registered this fact only to then lose them. Thankfully, my vote would not have affected the outcome in my constituency but I am furious - I have never missed the opportunity to vote in any election since I was 18.
Rebecca Tait, Burgess Hill, UK

I never received my postal vote papers, and although I was willing to drive the 50 miles back to my parental home to vote, obviously once you've requested a postal vote, you lose the option to vote in person. It was clear from my phone call to the election services team that lost postal vote forms were widespread in my constituency (Mid-Beds). I am cancelling my request to obtain a postal vote for all future elections: A 100 mile round trip may be inconvenient, but if it ensures that I am not disenfranchised, so be it.
Lucy, London

My partner has told me that several of his work colleagues who live in and around Rothwell, Leeds did not receive their polling cards and went to their nearest polling station. They have found out that they are not on the list. Most of them remembered that they posted off the voters register form in Oct/Nov and probably got lost in the post. This year, they are going to post their register form by hand. Some probably threw theirs in the bin by accident in midst of the junk mail as the form looks too much like junk mail.
Helen, Wakefield

I went to vote at 7pm, it was a smooth and seamless process. My only surprise is that pencils were used rather than permanent ink.
Derek, Bolton, England

Unlike those who were denied the opportunity to vote, my wife and I could easily have voted twice; we received a postal vote. On arriving at the polling station they had no record us as postal voters. We were honest and asked for our postal votes to be destroyed before voting in person. Something quite clearly needs to be done!
James Whistler, Cirencester, UK

I am disgusted with the shambles that the voting arrangements have become. And when John Humphrys told Alan Milburn about his experience the latter fell about laughing!
Geoff Ryall, Truro, Cornwall

I left my polling card at home when I went to vote. I merely had to tell the official my name and address and was allowed to vote. Anyone could have beaten me to it and used my vote fraudulently. Perhaps we should be required to show photo-ID (like a national ID card) when going to vote?
Peter, Nottingham

My postal ballot was delivered to the wrong address. Fortunately, my near neighbour did walk the ballot paper to me. However, if he had wished he could have easily used my vote.
Paul, London, UK

I am still (6 May)waiting for my postal vote from Northampton to arrive. Much use it will be if it ever does come. This is particularly irritating since the seat has been taken by a party I would have voted against! I wonder how many other voters for Northampton are still waiting.
Julia Norman, Stowmarket

I feel totally disgusted and annoyed that I was unable to vote as I feel very strongly about the right to vote
P Sansum, Billingham, Cleveland
I went to vote and was told that I couldn't as I had used the postal vote. I explained that at no point had I done so but was refused. I also received my polling card and cannot see how I could have used my postal vote with this card. I feel totally disgusted and annoyed that I was unable to vote as I feel very strongly about the right to vote. Something needs to be done and quickly.
P Sansum, Billingham, Cleveland

I and a number of other people in this area never received our polling cards for this election, nor have I been given the option of postal voting. Is this yet another indication of the contempt with which rural areas are regarded by the Labour government?
Tim Connell, Cheltenham, England (Cotswold)

People at my polling station were having their cards removed and were not being allowed to vote because the people on duty there said they had been registered for a postal vote. The officials said that there had been several people affected by this throughout the day. Is this a fair election? I thought the BBC may like to know this so that they can investigate more in other constituencies.
Craig Hendry, Leicester

I am a student in London and many of my friends have received both a postal vote and a polling card; one for their home address and one for where they live while at university. A friend of mine used both her votes today and no eyebrows were raised. Is this widespread and, if so, does it not have serious implications? Not least that the Green party will get double the number of votes it expected and the Tories in Durham will be loving double the number of votes from the tweed-clad student population.
Toby Welch, Hampstead, London

I find it most ironic that so many people with the right to vote have been unable to
Rhiannon Davies, Castle Cary, Somerset
I find it most ironic that so many people with the right to vote have been unable to - people serving in the forces, those de-registered in Hounslow, the problems in Bradford and with postal voting. I was automatically de-registered from the electoral roll in Staffordshire. How many other people did this happen to? Fair election?
Rhiannon Davies, Castle Cary, Somerset

I didn't vote as the polling station is nowhere near the address on my polling card. Liverpool Garston - I M Marsh
Don, Liverpool

Having queued for over an hour, myself and at least 100 others at a primary school in Fulwood Preston were denied the right to vote. This was not our fault as we had turned up in good time but it was due to bad organisation. How can a general election take place when myself and 100 others were turned away having turned up to vote in good time? My local councillor Jennifer, and Stuart, Greenhalgh were very angry and stressed by the situation. I want Tony Blair and the government to know about this situation. I am very angry and upset.
Helen Matthew, Preston, Lancashire

Before moving to Hong Kong in August 2004 I contacted my local election office to tell them of our move so that we could vote by post. I sent back the completed forms for my husband and myself once we had a permanent address here. We did not receive any paperwork from the UK and therefore were unable to vote. I wonder how many more people who wanted to vote missed out on the opportunity. We are not happy that we didn't get a chance to vote and that Labour has been re-elected.
Mrs Paula Bristow, Hong Kong

The system is a sham, likening it to a banana republic is too complimentary
Emily, Birmingham
David Dimbleby was just commenting on how students are voting in their university town. Somehow I got two votes, both here at university in Birmingham and a postal vote for my home constituency. The system is a sham, likening it to a banana republic is too complimentary.
Emily, Birmingham

What a farce!!! We really do live in a banana republic. When I went to vote yesterday morning at 7.15am before I went to work I was met with accusations. Somebody had already used my vote, MY VOTE, and I was the one who was scrutinised and accused of fraud until I showed them my passport etc. This was the first time I have voted in a national election, it will probably be my last but not the person who voted instead of me.
Rebecca, Manchester

It appears that some people in your constituency that are not entitled to vote in the parliamentary elections have received poling cards to vote. My wife who is Danish received a card for the parliamentary elections. We contacted the local council and were told they had made a mistake in sending out the card. I do wonder ho many other people who are ineligible to vote got to vote.
Nick, Oxford, UK

Having been in Afghanistan with the army since December, it has appalled me that neither myself nor the vast majority of my fellow service men currently on operations have been able to exercise our democratic right to vote because of the absence of postal voting forms.
Steve Reynolds, Ilkeston, Derbyshire

I have grave concerns regarding the validity of results to come
Russell B Hamilton, Bridstow, England
I have grave concerns regarding the validity of results to come, given serious and real failings in reliability of postal voting arrangements. My wife is a GP who is a registered postal voter in Herefordshire. She has voted in this way previously. She has not received her postal ballot form. She has chased it via the local authority but did not get any help. She has left numerous messages to no avail. Having not received a ballot paper she has been unable to vote. I am writing for her as she left for work at 7:00am this morning and will not finish until midnight. My wife has worked in the surgery all day before going straight to the out of hours centre. My understanding is that this is not an isolated incident and is widespread. Many people have been denied their democratic right to express an opinion. We live in a marginal seat. Is this a coincidence, incompetence or illegal ? Can anyone provide an explanation for this and will it stand up to scrutiny? We now live in a society that is electorally corrupt. I never thought I would see this day!
Russell B Hamilton, Bridstow, England