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200,000 General Election ballot papers stolen by van thieves in England

More than 200,000 ballot papers have gone missing after a van containing them was stolen by thieves ahead of next week's election.

72,300 of the blank election ballot papers were intended for the Hastings and Rye constituency in East Sussex, while the remaining 130,000 were headed to Eastbourne.

Officers investigating the theft, which took place overnight, said they found nothing to suggest the white Mercedes van was targeted for its contents.

A Hastings Borough Council spokesman told the Evening Standard that measures were being put in place so none of the 72,300 documents could be used.

"We have been informed that a van was stolen overnight which contained the polling station ballot papers for the Hastings & Rye constituency," he said.

"We have been in touch with the Electoral Commission and, following their guidance, we have put a process into place which will ensure that these ballot papers are not used for fraudulent purposes and cannot be included in the count.

"We have also made arrangements for delivery of further ballot papers."

Police said it was believed the van was parked in Longbridge Road, Dagenham, at about 7:30pm on Tuesday. The theft was discovered at about 6:25am. The vehicle was described as a white Mercedes Benz Sprinter, registration KN64 UPD.

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