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Vale of White Horse District Council (17 013 387)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 18 Dec 2017

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about the handling of proxy votes in the general election. This is because managing the election process was the responsibility of the Returning Officer who acts in a personal capacity. The matter is outside of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and we have no discretion to investigate.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, is unhappy with the way the Council dealt with sending him proxy votes for his parents.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate. The Ombudsman investigates alleged maladministration caused by administrative actions of authorities in jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(1)(a))
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint where the body complained about is not responsible for the issue being raised. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(1), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered Mr X’s original complaint and his correspondence with the Council. I gave Mr X an opportunity to comment on my draft decision and considered his comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr X has complained to the Council about it sending proxy votes for his parents to their own address, rather than to Mr X. He has also raised concerns about how the Council dealt with his complaint. The Council’s Returning Officer has responded to Mr X.
  2. Mr X is complaining about the administration of the general election. Managing the election process was the responsibility of the Returning Officer who works in a personal capacity and not as an employee of the Council. The complaint is not about an administrative function of the Council so the Ombudsman cannot investigate it.
  3. Mr X has also complained about the way the Council dealt with his complaint. The Ombudsman will not investigate a complaint about the Council’s complaint handling when we cannot investigate the issue which resulted in the complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the management of the election process. This was the responsibility of the Returning Officer who acts in a personal capacity rather than as an employee of the Council. The matter is therefore outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and we have no discretion to investigate.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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