Cambridgeshire council says dead voter gaffe was 'human error'

South Cambridgeshire District Council Image copyright Google
Image caption Up to 600 tenants are believed to have been affected by the mistake

"Human error" led to ballot papers being sent to former and deceased council house tenants, a Cambridgeshire council has admitted.

Ballot packs were sent to South Cambridgeshire District Council's 8,500 tenants on 17 October.

The council said "about 65" people had contacted it to say ex-partners or dead relatives had been put on the papers.

Councillor Mark Howell offered them "a heartfelt apology". The Electoral Reform Services has been informed.

Wrong button pressed

South Cambridgeshire council tenants are being asked to elect new tenant representatives.

Image copyright SCDC
Image caption Mark Howell said the council was "horrified" and "very, very sorry"

The council said its database did include up-to-date details of tenants who had either moved out or died, but "up to 600 were sent to people who previously held a joint tenancy and have moved out and in some cases passed away".

They learnt of the mistake on Tuesday, as a result of tenants getting in touch.

Mr Howell, who is cabinet member for housing, said: "Our team made a human error when running a report for the mailing and to avoid this happening again, all correspondence of this type will require double checking and final sign off from the head of service."

In 2008, the council made a similar error when it was balloting residents about whether they wished to remain as council tenants.

Mr Howell said that mistake was different: "In 2008, we didn't have sufficient data on the databases.

"What happened here was we didn't press the right button."

The Electoral Reform Services has been informed and it will make sure the mistake does not affect the outcome of the election, the council added.

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