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Ballot paper marked ‘Brexit’ gives Conservative councillor one-vote victory

A tie between a Conservative and independent candidate was decided after the returning officer counted the paper.

Votes are counted during the Newport West by-election at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales in Newport.
Votes are counted during the Newport West by-election at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales in Newport.

A Conservative councillor won his seat by a single vote after a ballot paper with “Brexit” written on it was deemed to be valid.

A tie between Stephen Hirst and independent candidate Kevin Painter in the Tetbury Town ward of Cotswold District Council was eventually decided when the returning officer opted to count the paper.

The deciding paper reportedly had an arrow from the word pointing towards Mr Birch’s name.

Electoral Commission rules state that a ballot paper cannot be rejected just because it is not marked in the proper place or is not marked with a cross.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Painter is planning to take official action to seek a recount.

The only way that a returning officer’s decision can be overturned is by an election petition.

The final result of the vote was 232 to 231 in Mr Hirst’s favour, with ten papers declared void.

PA

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