Broxtowe’s local elections was delayed and could have lead to a High Court action as a key candidate was announced winner without all the ballot papers accounted for.
Two ballot boxes were misplaced by election staff from an Eastwood Hilltop ballot station, as candidates noticed the total number of votes in Labour Leader Milan Radulovic’s battleground was over 2,000 crosses too low.
Mr Radulovic, ex-leader of the council, was already announced as one of the two winners of the ward when news came in that the count was short.
He won his seat by a close margin with Liberal Democrat Keith Longdon only nine votes behind.
Two boxes of votes were confirmed to have been left out, meaning that “numbers didn’t match up”, said a spokesperson for Broxtowe Borough Council.
Returning Officer Ruth Hyde said: “They were at the count, just overlooked. A mistake but we rextified it legally as soon as we discovered it.”
Milan Radulovic said: “Apparently two ballot boxes were missed out. It’s the second time this has happened in Eastwood.
“I’m feeling quite weak at the moment and this is a lot of unnecessary stress, and Bob and I have agreed to allow a re-count.
“They’re re-counting it now, if the result remains unchanged ut won’t matter.”
Lib Dem leader David Watts was outraged that the Eastwood Hilltop count has been blundered for the second election in a row, after athe wrong candidate was announced and the ouncil had to appeal to the High Court to correct the official declaration.
He said: “It is unbelievable that in two elections this has happened. Last time we declared the wrong winner in Eastwood and had to go the High Court to change it. We would expect someone to either resign or be sacked if it makes a difference.”
By law an official annoucement of the winner can only be overturned by the High Court, and this is believed to be at a cost of £10,000 per candidiate, so for the Eastwood Hilltop count this could cost the council up to £80,000.
After the re-count, the amended result added another 2308 votes.
Mr Radulovic and Susan Bagshaw both roughly doubled their votes and Milan’s lead over Keith Longdon was stretched from nine votes to 152.
Mr Radulovic added: “Me and Sue are the only people who have ever doubled our majority within two hours.”
Broxtowe Borough Council said in a statement: “The Eastwood Hilltop election result was announced prematurely without all the ballots cast being taken into consideration. This was immediately disclosed to the candidates for that ward. After consideration of the legal position and in discussion with the candidates, it was agreed that the additional votes should be counted and added to provided an accurate total.
“The issue has arisen previously at other elections in the Country and was considered by the Divisional Court in 2008 in a case called Fitch v Stephenson. It was imperative that all of the votes cast were taken into account and the candidates involved fully supported this. The circumstances set out were virtually identical to those in this case and the Court held that Section 48 of the Representation People Act 1983 was sufficient to “be deemed to have been to all intents a good and valid election”.”