In St Augustine’s Ward, Penarth, 35% of local residents apparently decided not to visit the local polling station and cast their ballot by post instead.

It’s been revealed that more than one in three of all votes cast in the May 4th Local Government Elections for Penarth Town Council were postal votes.

It was an election which produced several unexpected results with a number of established Labour and Conservative members losing their seats  – and with new and relatively  little-known candidates easily outperforming well-known councillors.

The huge surge in postal voting in Penarth’s council elections is likely to fuel further concerns already expressed by the Electoral Commission about the  postal votes system – particularly with the General Election pending on June 8th .

Hebron Church Hall, Cogan is one of the main polling stations for the Cornerswell Ward – but 32% of local residents seem to have decided to vote by post rather than visit a polling station


  • Cornerswell 32%
  • Plymouth 35%
  • Stanwell 31%
  • St Augustine’s 35%

There are no figures available to indicate whether there is any particular party preference in postal votes – compared with ballot papers filled-in at the polling station. No such analysis is carried out.

However there has been growing concern over many years about the validity of postal voting – and in particular the relatively lax registration process, compared with the more rigorous checks carried out by professional staff when voters turn up in person at polling stations.

Students are notorious for voting twice as they can be legally registered to vote in both their home town and in their university town and can therefore vote twice in local government elections (but only once –  legally –  in Parliamentary elections).

This photo of the Cardiff South and Penarth ballot paper for the forthcoming June 8th General Election was placed by a  postal voter on Twitter on May 22nd

The surge in the percentage of postal votes cast in the Penarth Town Council election compares with the abnormal surge in postal voting in the 2012 Parliamentary By-Election in Cardiff South and Penarth, (in which Labour candidate Stephen Doughty was first elected).

In that by-election , out of a total of 19,571 votes which were cast, 6,936 of them were postal votes – comprising  35.68% of the total.

This was a huge increase compared with the previous General Election in Cardiff South and Penarth in 2010 , in which a total of 44,369 votes which were cast, of which 10,430 were postal votes – comprising  23.5% of the total.

In the General Election of 2015 the postal vote percentage for Cardiff South and Penarth settled back to 2010 levels. Out of a total of 46,667 votes which were cast, 10,798 votes were postal – comprising 23.14% of the total .

However in all three General Elections the percentage of postal votes in Cardiff South and Penarth is far higher than the percentage across  the UK as a whole, which –  the Electoral Commission says – was, in 2010,  just 15% .

The Electoral Commission, which oversees elections in the UK, says  “There is a consistent level of concern among voters about electoral fraud in the UK. These concerns are shared by a broad range of people with experience of standing for election or running elections, and it is unlikely that these concerns will diminish in the immediate future.”

The Electoral Commission warns postal voters not to let anyone else vote for them, don’t let anyone see how they vote and advises them to try to take their vote to the pillar box themselves. It tells them they should NOT hand it over to a political candidate or party worker to post on their behalf.

The Electoral Commission also says “Under the current Great Britain system of household electoral registration there is no effective mechanism for verifying the identity of people applying to register to vote. Fictitious electoral register entries may be created“.

The Commission also admits  that as Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) do not currently hold records of every elector’s personal identifiers (such as date of birth) there is no direct verification that an application to vote by post has been made by the elector themselves.

The Electoral Commission says “removing the act of voting from the protected public space of a polling station, people who have been sent postal ballot packs may be more  vulnerable to undue influence, intimidation, harassment or pressure to vote in a particular way”.

Deputy High Court Judge Richard Mawrey, who tries cases of electoral fraud, has found there are 14 different ways in which postal votes can be manipulated and says postal voting makes the electoral system  “open to fraud on a scale that will make election rigging a possibility and indeed in some areas a probability”.

For anyone thinking of voting by post or in person in the General Election –  and who hasn’t yet registered – it’s now too late. The deadline for registration was yesterday.


About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
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  1. Mark Foster says:

    How stupid can you be to allow these systems to operate amongst Steven Doughty’s immigrant community supporters in Cardiff South? You need to come out in your thousands to counteract this corruption, stop him stealing the election and thus save yourselves.

    • Ian Symonds says:

      I wouldn’t have thought that the immigrant community in Cardiff South had any bearing on the outcome for Penarth Town Council, which is what the article was about. Labour’s success and the Conservative’s failure surely had more to do with the shambolic way that the Tories appeared to conduct their campaign.

      • PR says:

        Exactly right Ian. And the same applies in the general election. Doughty might not be great by any means but the Tory manifesto is so appalling that i have completely lost confidence in them to govern.

  2. Peter Church says:

    Using postal votes is just plain wrong. Many many instances of the “head” of the household requiring all the woman to give up their papers so he can vote ‘for’ them.
    I haven’t mentioned any religion nor community, but put your thinking caps on and try and work it out which ones.

    This from the Electoral Commission’s review of electoral fraud in 2014

    5.33 Limiting the availability of postal voting would reduce the risk of fraud:
    with fewer postal votes it would be harder for a corrupt candidate or their
    supporter to coordinate a sufficiently large number of fraudulent votes to
    influence the result of an election. It would not, however, eliminate that risk
    completely, particularly at local government elections where the margin of
    victory for ward elections is often relatively small.

  3. Frank Evans says:

    The while fun of elections is going to vote! !
    Lazy sods, unless you’re disabled or have mobility issues then walk to the polling station and mark your X

    • Frank O'File says:

      Don’t be a spoilsport Frank. Let the people domiciled in France vote as well.

Comments are closed.