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'No slip-up' from Electoral Office over pensioner's postal vote

By Noel McAdam

A 95-year-old Fermanagh woman who missed out on voting for the first time in her life was not the victim of an Electoral Office "slip-up", its head has insisted.

Chief electoral officer Virginia McVea said there was no evidence of "systemic failure" after Lisbellaw woman Kathleen Sloan failed to receive a postal vote.

But her daughter Ruth Young said last night: "That is not good enough.

"I want to know where my mother's postal vote went to."

Mrs Sloan's was one of more than 23,800 postal votes issued in Northern Ireland for last week's General Election, but it never arrived at her home.

Royal Mail said it delivered all of the postal voting packs it received and was "working closely" with the Electoral Office.

Mrs Young spoke directly to Mrs McVea last week and said: "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 had never arrived, but it turned out there was nothing she could do.

"My mum was 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."

Mrs McVea replied yesterday: "I liaised with Royal Mail and they could offer no further information, believing that it had been delivered.

"Any instance where a postal vote is not received is of concern to me, but there has not been any evidence of any systemic failures. Once issued, the law does not allow for the vote to be provided in another way. Mrs Sloan's postal vote was issued by this office and I am not permitted by law to provide another vote."

The chief electoral officer, who recently took over the post and has presided over both the March Assembly and last week's General Election, added: "There was no slip-up at the Electoral Office. I have liaised with Royal Mail on this matter and we will continue to work together to ensure the best service we can to people in Northern Ireland."

Mrs Young replied: In my humble opinion - not good enough.

"I would like to know where my mother's postal vote is, and what Mrs McVea is going to do about overhauling this method of postal voting?"

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