The Labour Party’s leadership contest was engulfed in more chaos on 2 September, as reports emerged suggesting that 100,000 ballots had not been sent out to members. With the apparent ‘purge’ of members and potential supporters showing no signs of letting up, more questions than answers remain about the governance of the contest.
Where are the ballots?
Voting for the leadership contest officially opened on 22 August, with the deadline for ballots being sent on the 31 August. But reports on social media began to come in on 1 September that people hadn’t received their forms, with multiple reports that 100,000 ballots had gone missing. With the deadline for ballot reissues being 14 September, people naturally became worried. The hashtags #ChaseItUp and #FindThe100K were being used to communicate problems.
Some of the reasons given when people rang the Labour HQ helpline were odd, to say the least:
I rang today and was told that mine must of been 'lost in the Internet'!
— Emz (@emzieloo1937) September 1, 2016
**RT** Just called Labour on 0345 092 2299, option 5, on hold 5 mins. Told my ballot not issued due to 'admin error'! You MUST #ChaseItUp
— Sarah (@ScouseGirlMedia) September 1, 2016
#ChaseItUp Just called. Was told ballots were being sent out on "batches" and to call back if mine didn't arrive at the end of next week
— kit hardy (@ms_kitka) September 1, 2016
— Dr Eve Parker (@everparker) September 1, 2016
One Canary reader got in touch to tell us their version of events:
I have just phoned 0345 0922299 and had to wait for 10 minutes before anyone replied on the ‘other Labour Party business’ option.
I gave the guy my membership number and in seconds he told me I was eligible to vote. He said he would instantly instruct the relevant department to ‘reissue’ my email ballot paper and send me the paper one. I asked why it was necessary to ‘reissue’ them since I had never received one in the first place. He told me that his computer doesn’t tell him if one was issued or not. I asked him how long before I received my ballot paper and he said he hoped it would be less than five days. But it would certainly be before the ballot closed. The delay is due in part, he said, to it having to go to the Electoral Reform people. Their 31 August deadline, he said, was not being stuck to.
History repeating itself?
But it would appear that problems with ballots are nothing new in the Labour Party. In last year’s leadership election, the party decided to close voter helplines a day before the election officially closed. This left dozens of people without a vote. As The Guardian reported at the time:
With less than 24 hours to go before the voting deadline, dozens of Labour members and supporters have publicly complained that they have still not received emails or papers allowing them to take part. Some of the leadership campaigns believe hundreds if not thousands of members and supporters could be disenfranchised. After receiving many complaints over the last week, Labour reissued thousands of ballots by email on Tuesday to people who had not yet voted. However, a source in one of the leadership camps said there was “a lot of concern the party has basically decided to stop taking calls and if you don’t have a vote, you’re now basically not getting one”.
History now appears to be repeating itself. Numerous Twitter users, Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn-supporting accounts have been frantically trying to get information out to voters, with many people going to the website whycantivote.com, run by barrister Liz Davies.
Labour Party officials have denied that 100,000 ballots are still waiting to be sent out. A spokesperson told The Mirror that:
It is simply not true that there are 100,000 ballots yet to be issued in the Labour leadership contest.
The ‘Labour Purge’ also continued this week. As The Canary previously reported, countless members are being suspended from voting, and potential members are having their applications rejected, quite often for seemingly innocuous reasons. Many have been rejected for tweeting ‘in support’ of the Green Party, and some have been given no reason at all.
With the results of the contest to be announced on the 23 September, and the latest polling by YouGov giving Corbyn a clear lead, people could be forgiven for thinking something sinister is going on.
Whether there is an intentional push to stop members voting or not, one thing does remain clear: the Labour Party is really rather bad at organising elections.
– If you have not received your ballot for the leadership election, call 0345 092 2299 immediately.
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