Privacy settings

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Wokingham Borough Council (20 007 887)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Nov 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint about how the Council dealt with her proxy vote in the last general election. This is because the Ombudsman has no legal remit to investigate the organisation of elections.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complains the Council has failed to respond to her complaint about a problem she experienced with her proxy vote in the last general election.

Back to top

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.
  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)
  3. Returning Officers for elections act in their own capacity, not as officers of a local authority. (Representation of the People Act 1983, sections 23(2))
  4. The Courts have said that we cannot investigate a complaint about any action by a council, concerning a matter which is itself out of our jurisdiction. (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration [2006] EHWCC 2847 (Admin))

Back to top

How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mrs X said in her complaint.

Back to top

What I found

  1. Mrs X lives overseas and complained to the Council after experiencing a problem casting her proxy vote in the December 2019 General Election. Mrs X says the Council has failed to properly respond to her complaint.

Analysis

  1. The Returning Officer is responsible for the organisation of elections and in doing so, acts in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Council. Because of this, we have no legal remit to investigate.
  2. The Courts have held that we cannot investigate a complaint about any action by a council, concerning a matter which is itself outside of our jurisdiction. We cannot therefore investigate how the Council has responded to Mrs X’s complaint.

Back to top

Final decision

  1. My decision is that the Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint as he has no legal remit to investigate the organisation of elections. This is because this is not an administrative function of the Council, but the responsibility of the Returning Officer, over whom we have no remit.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Back to top

Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

Print this page