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  1. ITV Report

Hundreds of Plymouth students 'mistakenly added' to electoral register

Plymouth City Council says more than 850 students and young people have been 'incorrectly' added to the electoral register.

The council has written to 247 under-18s in the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency who have been sent polling cards despite being under age.

Additionally, 635 students are on the register without having filled in an 'invitation to register' form.

The council says it is writing to everyone affected to say they have been removed from the list, and if they believe they are eligible to vote they must re-register.

Four parties are competing for votes in the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency. Credit: ITV News

Data about young people who are soon to turn 18 was added to our electoral system last year. These young people were not properly tagged on the system.

This meant that when they turned 18 some were mistakenly added to the register when it was updated without them having completed an 'invitation to register.'

We are writing to these young people to let them know that they will need to complete an invitation to register in order to be placed on the register in time for them to vote on December 12th. We have also updated the system so no ineligible young people are left on the register.

This tagging issue was also the reason why some 17-year-olds in the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency were sent a poll card.

We have now put in place further independent quality assurance to continuously assess all our procedures and processes relating to electoral data.

– Plymouth City Council spokesman
The candidates waiting to hear the result in the 2017 election Credit: ITV News

Following the last General Election in 2017, council chiefs apologised after more than 1,500 postal ballots went missing in the run-up to polling day, while many people were turned away from polling stations and 6,000 votes were not counted on the night.

Then in the 2019 local election, the council admitted adding 304 students to the register without them confirming an application.

Plymouth Sutton and Devonport have a Conservative and Labour battle with the Tories winning the last election.

Labour won this target marginal seat which was high on their list in 2017 and remains so in this election.

ITV News West Country has spoken to one Plymouth resident who says his 17-year-old stepdaughter was sent a polling card.

I got in touch with the Electoral Commission who told me to take it up with Plymouth electoral office. They admitted that this had happened and stated that the names of people this involves will be crossed off the voting list

– Plymouth resident
This letter was sent to a 17-year-old received a polling card in Plymouth. Credit: Plymouth resident

We are disappointed that Plymouth City Council have included a number of people on the electoral register without them having made an individual application to register to vote, particularly as this was also identified as an issue ahead of the May elections.

It’s vital that electors and those taking part in elections have confidence that the register is accurate and complete, and we will be working closely with the council to fully understand and address the issues that have been identified.

The commission sets standards and monitors the performance of electoral registration officers, and we will address this issue as part of our reporting after the election.

– Electoral Commission spokesman

KEY DATES FOR 2019 ELECTION:

Deadline for receiving applications for registration: Tuesday 26th November

Deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications, and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes: Tuesday 26th November

POLLING DAY: Thursday 12th December, 07:00-22:00