03 May 2007 | Paul Snell
Many people will be left without a vote in today's elections throughout the UK, as printing suppliers failed to meet their deadlines for postal ballots.
Malcolm Dumper, executive director for policy at the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA), told supplymanagement.com that new legislation brought in by the government to reduce fraud in postal voting had caught contractors and suppliers off guard. "There hasn't been sufficient time to plan ahead. There has been precious little time to get ready," he said.
Most contracts are for between 10,000 and 20,000 postal ballot packs. Returning officers are responsible for contracting suppliers for the compilation of the packs and printing of ballot papers. Dumper said the delays were caused by a combination of returning officers running out of time and printing firms being caught out on new technical requirements.
He also said, as a result of the new legislation, the number of suppliers had been reduced and there was less expertise in the market. This meant many officers were attempting to use the same supplier, which led to a lack of capacity.
The Electoral Commission, the independent organisation responsible for monitoring elections in the UK, said it would be considering the matter as part of its broad election evaluation.