Conservatives on the London Assembly are calling for a “full and urgent inquiry” into the “catastrophic blunders” which saw thousand of voters in Barnet wrongly turned away from polling stations.
Thursday’s election saw Labour win 12 of the 25 Assembly seats, the Conservatives eight, UKIP and the Greens two each and the Liberal Democrats just one.
Failures by Barnet Council officials meant local polling stations only had partial lists of voters, leading to some Londoners being denied the chance to vote. The error came to light after voters who knew they should be registered were denied the chance to do so. Many took to social media to complain.
Although corrected voter lists were later issued Mr Bacon, Conservative leader on the Assembly, says the initial blunder may have lost his group an additional member on the all London ‘top up’ list from which seats are allocated based on the number of votes each party receives.
The AM is also calling for the inquiry to examine why the results of the mayoral election were delayed by five hours, meaning Mayor Sadiq Khan’s victory was only announced in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Over the weekend Jeff Jacobs, the Greater London Returning Officer, said that validation checks carried out before the result was announced “highlighted some small discrepancies in the numbers for each candidate.”
City Hall has been keen to stress that the discrepancies “were not in any way material to the overall result” but say it was necessary to review and resolve them to ensure the final vote count was accurate.
Mr Jacobs has already confirmed he will be holding “a full review into the way the election was conducted”.
However Mr Bacon says the new Assembly should conduct its own investigation and will urge all parties to back his call when it meets for the first time this Friday.
Mr Bacon said: “The total incompetence of London Elects and Barnet Council in their handling of this ballot has led to serious questions over the Londonwide list result and caused huge delays in the counting process.
“To have voters turned away for any reason is completely unacceptable. The votes that were unable to be cast could very well have altered the result of the Londonwide list allocation. It is essential that voters have faith in the electoral process and effectively disenfranchising people for three hours on polling day totally undermines this.
“We are demanding a full explanation for this abysmal administrative performance. London Elects and Barnet Council has had four years to plan for this but they both failed to get it right when it mattered and the voting public has suffered.
“I am calling on all parties to back my motion for a full and urgent inquiry so we can establish what caused these catastrophic blunders.”
The problems in Barnet have already seen the council’s Chief executive Andrew Travers set down from his position and the council will be “launching a full independent investigation” of its own.
A spokesperson for the council said “The terms of reference will include a full review of the issues that arose last week as well as the appropriateness of the arrangements in place for the EU Referendum in June.
“The review will conclude by the end of May and the findings will be presented publicly to the General Functions Committee. We are currently in discussions to establish who will lead on the investigation and will provide further information shortly.”
LONDON ASSEMBLY CONSTITUENCY RESULTS IN FULL:
|Barnet & Camden||Andrew Dismore, Labour Party|
|Bexley & Bromley||Gareth Bacon, Conservative Party|
|Brent & Harrow||Navin Shah, Labour Party|
|City & East||Unmesh Desai, Labour Party|
|Croydon & Sutton||Stephen O’Connell, Conservative Party|
|Ealing & Hillingdon||Onkar Sahota, Labour Party|
|Enfield & Haringey||Joanne McCartney, Labour Party|
|Greenwich & Lewisham||Len Duvall, Labour Party|
|Havering & Redbridge||Keith Prince, Conservative Party|
|Lambeth & Southwark||Florence Eshalomi, Labour Party|
|Merton & Wandsworth||Leonie Cooper, Labour Party|
|North East||Jennette Arnold, Labour Party|
|South West||Tony Arbour, Conservative Party|
|West Central||Tony Devenish, Conservative Party|
LONDON ASSEMBLY LIST RESULTS IN FULL:
|Sian Berry||Green Party|
|Caroline Pidgeon||Liberal Democrats|
|Kemi Badenoch||Conservative Party|
|Andrew Boff||Conservative Party|
|Fiona Twycross||Labour Party|
|Caroline Russell||Green Party|
|Tom Copley||Labour Party|
|Shaun Bailey||Conservative Party|
|Nicky Gavron||Labour Party|