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Kent general election: Delays with postal ballots upsets voters in Maidstone and Medway

Would-be voters have had a worrying time as they awaited the arrival of their postal ballot papers.

Grant Brooks from Maidstone was one of many whose papers have only just arrived - nearly forcing him to choose between voting and going on holiday.

Some people may end up taking their postal ballots to a polling station
Some people may end up taking their postal ballots to a polling station

Mr Brooks said: “It’s my 56th birthday today, Wednesday, and I was planning on going away for a short break to a holiday home at Dymchuch. Obviously that would mean I wasn’t here to vote on polling day.”

“When it still hadn’t arrived on Tuesday morning I contacted Maidstone council, and they said I could call into their office and get a duplicate, but actually it arrived an hour or two later.

“I filled it in at once and took it down to the office as there didn’t seem to be time to post it back.

“The alternative, I was told, was to take it in person to the polling booth on polling day - but that rather defeats the whole object!”

Mr Brooks said: “I see now that the problem has been widespread across the country. Who is to blame - the councils or Royal Mail - I don’t know.

It shouldn’t have been a problem

“I do know that I applied for my postal vote on June 18 before the deadline, so there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

Ian Allen, of Hart Street, Maidstone, was another who experienced delays.

He said: “I applied in good time. When it didn’t arrive, I queried it with the council who said it had been sent out on June 21.

“It arrived on Saturday - just about time to post it back.”

Maidstone council said: “All postal packs have been issued.

“We do not have problems of the scale reported elsewhere, but we are aware that some electors' postal packs were late arriving.

A postal ballot being sent for counting
A postal ballot being sent for counting

“We have worked with Royal Mail, both nationally and locally, to ensure postal packs are delivered and returned to us as a priority.

“We do appreciate that this could still create difficulties for people so close to the election.

“Electors who have not received their packs can contact the Electoral Services team (01622 602007) and request a re-issue.

Further information can be found here.

Voting is tomorrow, Thursday, with the polls open between 7am and 10pm.

Medway council has experienced similar problems with the late arrival of postal ballots there.

Maidstone Town Hall
Maidstone Town Hall

The delays have caused a storm of complaints on social media, where Marion Reader from Maidstone, described the “chaos” as “criminal.”

But not everyone has had the same experience.

John Ryan, also from Maidstone, said: “I got my postal vote through on the exact day they said and submitted it the next day - well before the election!”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We have no backlog of postal votes and, whilst we are not complacent, we remain confident that postal votes handed to us on time will be delivered prior to polling day.

"Where specific concerns have been raised, we have investigated and confirmed ballot packs are being delivered as soon as they arrive in our network."

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