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Response to fake ballot papers discarded in Oakham

Date Published: 30 July 2021
Ballot fakes.jpg

Rutland County Council has recovered a number of fake ballot papers for the Oakham South by-election that appear to have been intentionally discarded near All Saints Church.

The council was first notified about the fake papers via a message and photograph on social media, shortly before 11.45am today (Friday 30 July).  An officer from Rutland’s Elections Team eventually located the papers (of which there were 13 in total) in a bin close to All Saints Church, shortly after 12.15pm. The papers are now in possession of the Elections Team and have been removed to the Council’s Catmose offices.

Following a close inspection of the papers, they were quickly identified as clear and obvious fakes because they do not carry all of the information that would be found on a real ballot. A ballot paper envelope also pictured in the photograph on social media was found to be authentic. However, care had been taken to remove part of the envelope displaying a unique reference number that would have allowed the Council to trace it back to the property where it was originally delivered.

Phillip Horsfield, Monitoring Officer for Rutland County Council, said: “Based on our inspection of the papers found near All Saints Church this morning and comparing them to a real postal ballot, we can say with absolute certainty that they are fake. We are appalled by what appears to be a malicious and calculated attempt to create confusion and distrust, and undermine public confidence in the forthcoming Oakham South by-election. This is completely unacceptable. We have notified the Electoral Commission and will be handing over all evidence to a specialist unit of the police in order to investigate.

“We are grateful to the individual who first reported this to us on social media. Thanks must also go to our Elections Team, who responded quickly to locate and inspect the papers, and confirm that they are clear and obvious fakes.”

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