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Dorset Council (20 008 645)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 10 Dec 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council’s failure to send reminders for voting by proxy. This is because the complaint is late and there are no good reasons to investigate it now.

The complaint

  1. Mrs Y complains the Council failed to send her reminders to register her by proxy vote when she moved abroad and then removed her from the electoral register in 2016.
  2. Mrs Y says not being on the electoral register for several years has negatively impacted her credit rating.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I spoke to Mrs Y and considered the information provided about the complaint. Mrs Y had an opportunity to comment on my draft decision. I considered any comments received before making a final decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs Y moved abroad in 2011. She applied to the Council for a long-term vote by proxy, sent to her father’s address. Mrs Y says she did not receive any reminders to register for by proxy voting after she left the UK in 2011.
  2. She says the last time she voted was in 2016 and she only found out she was no longer on the electoral register when she returned to the UK earlier this year and found her credit rating was poor as a result.

Analysis

  1. Mrs Y says she only became aware she was no longer on the electoral register this year. However, since 2016 there have been two general elections, which if she had been on the electoral roll, Mrs Y would have been eligible to vote in.
  2. Regardless of whether she chose to vote or not, Mrs Y would in effect have been on notice, that she may not be on the electoral roll, at each election she, or her father who she chose for her proxy, did not receive either a postal vote or a polling card for her. Consequently, she would have been reasonably aware of her reason for complaint as early as 2017, when there was a general election after she was taken off the electoral register. Her complaint is therefore late.
  3. We have discretion to disapply the rule outlined in paragraph three where we decide there are good reasons. Mrs Y has not provided any good reasons why she did not bring her complaint to us within 12 months of knowing about the matter. It is reasonable to expect her to have complained sooner.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because the complaint is late with no good reasons to investigate it now.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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