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Northern Ireland woman (95) misses election for first time in 'post vote error'

By Noel McAdam

A 95-year-old Northern Ireland woman has missed out on voting in the General Election for the first time in her life over a mistake with her postal vote, it has been claimed.

Lisbellaw woman Kathleen Sloan was left out after her postal vote failed to arrive in time for Thursday's poll. And the slip-up was not corrected, even after Mrs Sloan's daughter Ruth Young spoke personally to chief electoral officer Virginia McVeigh.

And now Mrs Young is demanding an overhaul of the voting system - and an explanation from Royal Mail.

"I am very angry about this," Mrs Young said. "It is a classic case of incompetence.

"It has just been one mistake after another and I have to say, I am not going to let this sit."

Mrs Young said she had been in contact with the Electoral Office about her mother's postal vote on a daily basis.

"I didn't mention to my mother about what was going on, I did not want to worry her.

"But when even the chief electoral officer could not sort this out, what does that say?

"The whole system needs changed.

"I was able to speak to Mrs McVeigh earlier in the week and she asked me if I would be able to get my mother to a polling station.

"I thought there was some way she was going to be able to countermand the postal vote which never arrived, but it turned out there was nothing she could do.

"My mum was so very disappointed. She has never missed voting before in her whole life.

"I had already had many conversations with the Electoral Office in Omagh and Belfast, but it seemed once a postal vote is sent, nothing could be done.

"If we are to have a proper functioning democracy, surely Royal Mail should be able to get the postal votes to the right people. It is a shambles.

"How many more postal votes were not delivered, I wonder," Mrs Young added.

Royal Mail spokesperson, Morag Turnbull said, however: "We have been working closely with the Electoral Office in Northern Ireland and can confirm we delivered all the postal voting packs that we received."

There was no one immediately available from the Electoral Office for comment yesterday.

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