Blackpool Borough Council (23 003 436)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 20 Jun 2023

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the conduct of a local election. We cannot look at the actions of the Returning Officer.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains about the actions of polling station staff at a recent election. He says that as a result, he was denied his right as a citizen of this country.

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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.
  2. We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. We cannot investigate the actions of Returning Officers. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34A, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Elections are conducted under the authority of a Returning Officer. Although this is usually a senior council officer appointed for the purpose in elections, when they are acting as a Returning Officer they are not a Council employee. Therefore, any complaints do not have to be dealt with through the Council’s complaints system. The Ombudsman cannot look at the actions of the Returning Officer.
  2. This complaint concerns the staff at a polling station. Responsibility for polling stations and the staff employed there falls under the Returning Officer’s remit. Therefore, we cannot investigate this complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint because we cannot look at the actions of the Returning Officer.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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