Barnet council voters could be compensated after polling mistake

Up to 600 people who were wrongly turned away from Barnet council’s polling stations for mayoral and London assembly elections on 5 May could be entitled to compensation, an inquiry has claimed.

The news follows the council’s polling disaster which meant many of the council’s polling stations were sent incomplete electoral registers, resulting in numerous voters being turned away from stations because their names were milling from the registration lists.

During the hearing inquiry, it emerged that the mistake could lead to hundreds of claims for maladministration to the Electoral Commission. However, John Hooton, the council’s interim chief executive and returning officer, has argued that around half of the people turned away were able to vote later on after the corrected registers had been dispatched.

Barnet’s assurance director, Davina Fiore, said: “We will never know an absolutely accurate figure ... Of those who said they were impacted, nearly 50 per cent were able to return. So if we say between 500 and 600 were impacted then it would be between 250 and 300 that were able to return.”

She added: “We have kept all the records of the day. I don’t believe people would have a claim against us, but that’s a matter for people to decide themselves.

“All the staff involved in the election were actually quite devastated by what happened [and] fully recognise the seriousness of what happened and would agree with your assessment of it being a major catastrophe in terms of elections. We absolutely recognise that public confidence in the electoral system is absolutely paramount and we are going to do what we need to do to get that back.”

The local government ombudsman said it would be a matter for the Electoral Commission.