Darlington Borough Council (21 010 801)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 06 Dec 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about problems the complainant faced in registering to vote. This is because the Council has provided an explanation and the complainant has said she does not wish to pursue the complaint further.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I refer to as Ms X, complains about problems she faced when she tried to register to vote and about a delay by the Council in responding to her complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start an investigation if the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met.(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. We can decide whether to start an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Ms X and the Council. I also considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Ms X applied to register to vote in April. The Council did an electronic check with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) but the DWP could not verify Ms X’s identity.
  2. The Council asked Ms X to provide documents to prove her identity. Ms X could not provide the documents.
  3. In response to her complaint the Council apologised for a delay in replying and explained that the documents that can be used to prove identity are specified by central government and the Council has to follow those requirements. The Council said it had done a second check with the DWP, which was successful, and it could now add Ms X to the register.
  4. I will not investigate this complaint because, while Ms X says she remains dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of her case, she is content for the complaint to be closed.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint because Ms X has been registered to vote and does not want to pursue the complaint further.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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