GE2015: No, it wasn’t a scam

Christopher Everard No ScamChristopher Everard posted this on his Facebook page on Saturday 9th May: two days later it has been shared 11,674 times.

“HOW THE SCAM WORKED: Voters in Bournemouth were casting votes on the wrong ballot papers – or being told to ‘come back later’. All nine polling stations in Kinson North and Kinson South were affected by a printing error on books of ballot papers. Meanwhile, in Hastings, 200,000 ballot papers were stolen – divided up, these would have been enough to swing at least 30 marginal seats. Hundreds of postal ballot papers were sent out without the names of the Green and Labour Party candidates in the Hull East constituency. The provision of pencils in polling booths is a requirement of section 206 of the Electoral Act. There is, however nothing to prevent an elector from marking his or her ballot paper with a pen – but voters were never told this – so everyone used the pencils – and that made it easier to ‘adjust’ the vote. Then two ballot boxes were misplaced by election staff from an Eastwood Hilltop ballot station, as candidates noticed the total number of votes in Labour Leader Milan Radulovic’s battleground was over ‘2,000 crosses too low’. And then Darlington Borough Council faced calls for a re-count after UKIP’s David Hodgson’s name was left off ballot papers. Funny how all these ‘blunders’ never disadvantaged the queen’s cousin, Mr David Cameron. A full investigation is being made into a documentary for THE ENIGMA CHANNEL – check out the TV shows here – they are banned from the mainstream!”

How what scam worked?

If someone tries to convince you of something with a list of happenings which they claim prove their point, always, always, pick each happening from the list and confirm it. And find out if the list of happenings have any bearing on each other. These election errors don’t appear to be linked at all: they affect a range of candidates in two different elections in various parts of the country.

Picking apart each item offered in evidence:

“All nine polling stations in Kinson North and Kinson South were affected by a printing error on books of ballot papers. “

On 7th May 2015, English local authorities held their council elections. The nine polling stations in the two wards in Bournemouth got the correct general election ballots, but the council election ballots, different for each ward, were switched – Kinson North got Kinson South’s council election ballots, and vice versa. Obviously that doesn’t excuse the mistake, but it could not have affected the general election result.

“Meanwhile, in Hastings, 200,000 ballot papers were stolen – divided up, these would have been enough to swing at least 30 marginal seats.”

To be precise, at the end of April, a van was stolen in Hastings. There’s no evidence that the van thief knew the van contained 200,000 ballot papers, but Hastings council, with the guidance of the Electoral Commission, put a process in place to ensure that these ballot papers could not be used for fraudulent purposes and could not be included in the count.

“Hundreds of postal ballot papers were sent out without the names of the Green and Labour Party candidates in the Hull East constituency. ”

Yes – a serious error, rectified as fast as possible; the 484 voters affected by this were hand-delivered replacement ballot papers with the correct set of candidates, just in time to post them in (or of course they could have handed the completed postal ballot into a polling station).

This error could not have affected the overall result – the Labour Party candidate in Hull East, Karl Turner, won with 18,180 votes – but might have noticeably affected the Green Party candidate Sarah Walpole’s count, as she came in fifth with 806 votes. Even had all 484 voters affected intended to vote for Sarah Walpole, however, she could not have kept her deposit (she would have needed to get at least 1750 votes for that) nor could she have moved up into fourth place and beaten the LibDem candidate, who got 2,294 votes.

“The provision of pencils in polling booths is a requirement of section 206 of the Electoral Act. There is, however nothing to prevent an elector from marking his or her ballot paper with a pen – but voters were never told this – so everyone used the pencils – and that made it easier to ‘adjust’ the vote. “

No, it doesn’t. Have you ever tried to invisibly erase the mark made by a hard pencil on a piece of thin paper? Really not easy!

This comes up almost every election. You can take your own pen or pencil into the voting booth and use that if you want, but he reason pencils are provided instead of pens is that they’re more reliable – pens run out of ink or can leak – and because the marks made by a pencil remain on paper even if the paper gets wet. Ink runs. Pencil marks don’t.

The system used by the UK – paper ballots, marked with a cross, deposited in sealed ballot boxes under the eyes of electoral officers, hand-counted after the polls close under the observation of representatives of all the parties who had candidates in that election, is regarded as a gold standard for reliability and difficulty to subvert worldwide.

“Then two ballot boxes were misplaced by election staff from an Eastwood Hilltop ballot station, as candidates noticed the total number of votes in Labour Leader Milan Radulovic’s battleground was over ‘2,000 crosses too low’.”

Again, this was a council election blunder, not a general election blunder. The two ballot boxes were still at the polling station, overlooked. When it was noticed the total number was wrong, the boxes were searched for and found – and brought to the count (still sealed). A recount was held. The recount didn’t affect the result: the Labour councillor in whose ward the error happened still won.

So: this error did not affect the result, and this error could not have affected the general election result.

“And then Darlington Borough Council faced calls for a re-count after UKIP’s David Hodgson’s name was left off ballot papers.”

Yes, this was a serious error. A printing blunder similar to the one in Hull, but for polling station ballots instead of postal ballots: and only in the ballots issued to one polling station. On 7th May, 89 general election ballots which did not include the UKIP candidate were issued at that one polling station before the error was caught. Correctly-printed ballot papers were then issued to that polling station.

The 89-ballot error did not affect the results: David Hodgson got 5392 votes, coming third after the Tory candidate (14479 votes) and the Labour winner Jenny Chapman (17637 votes). In 4th place behind Dave Hodgson was Anne-Marie Curry, the LibDem candidate (1966 votes). There was no recount because the 89 incorrect ballots could not have affected either the winning results or the third place won by the UKIP candidate.

This is a comprehensive list of errors in the council and general elections. None of them could have affected the general election result, and it seems to have been put together in this form to publicise Christopher Everard’s Youtube channel, which is what he calls THE ENIGMA CHANNEL.

Chris Everard writes on his own website:

“My book tells the previously untold story of ‘Spiritual Warfare’ being perpetrated against ancient tribal people in the Amazon, Siberia, Europe and Asia. Their methods of communicating with the God-head through the use of very ancient hallucinogenic herbs is under attack – and their rituals and knowledge have been hijacked by Occultists, Secret Societies & the Vatican who have used these plants and the telepathic effects which they create in order to contact the dark & demonic forces of the Universe… And some of those occultists tried to stop me from making this film.”

Let us be clear; There are plenty of problems with democracy in the UK. But building up this kind of story about scams taking place at the count is not helpful. Inventing fake problems won’t help us solve real ones.

Laurie Penny wrote:

There’s a reason depression and its precarious cousin, anxiety, are the dominant political modes of late capitalism. This is how you’re supposed to feel. This is how you do feel, if you accept their logic. You don’t need a nasty little voice in your head telling you you’re useless and deserve nothing. You’ve got Iain Duncan Smith. For five more years.

The Tories prey on the politics of despair, and I think we’ve let them do it. It’s not our fault. Depression is still a source of shame, especially in a country like this. When everything feels awful and out of control, it’s paradoxically easier to blame yourself and your neighbours than it is to direct anger outwards.

I support people who stood outside Downing Street exercising their right to tell the Prime Minister they loathe him and his party and what his party stands for: Tories Out Now is free speech.

I suppose I have to support the likes of Christopher Everard trying to scare up false stories of scammed elections to boost his Youtube channel, but not without opposition: that’s accuracy.

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