Reply To: Elections aftermath

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

Re how long is the crucial evidence is kept for and under whose supervision? According to one of the Electoral Commission replies to my email inquiries I was told the following:

“Thank you for your e-mail below and also your earlier e-mail received yesterday at 13:00 these have both been forwarded to our Electoral Administration team and I have picked both of these up.

I will address your queries below in this e-mail and then respond to your further e-mail in due course. We produce guidance for Acting Returning Officers at a UKPGE including the Absent Voting processes which will give you much more detail on these processes. Our guidance is based on the relevant electoral legislation you can find this guidance in Part D Absent Voting and I have also attached a flowchart which outlines the postal vote opening process.”

Three of my questions included:
1. Are these A envelopes kept and stored for a period so that a check of the numbers can be made if a ballot box goes missing?
2. If they are kept where are they stored and for how long?
3. For how long are the ballots themselves retained after an election before they are destroyed?

Replies were as follows:

“1 While there is no requirement to retain A envelopes they are routinely stored securely and kept for one year Part F of our guidance covers storage and disposal of documents following an election. Legislation provides for the recording of ballot paper numbers against an electors number via a Corresponding Number List (CNL). The CNL is used at the issue of postal ballot packs in the same way that a CNL is used in a polling station to record that a ballot paper has been given to an elector. A marked register of postal voters shows which postal ballot packs have been returned similar to the marked register in a polling station.

2 Legislation requires that election documentation is kept securely, this is a matter for the Returning Officer and in practice this can be a secure strong room within the local authority or at other secure facilities.

3 One year.”

From this it would seem that the maximum window of opportunity for both gaining access to evidence and the Statute of Limitations for filing an Election Petition challenge is one year; not long, but we still have time.