A would-be election candidate has hit out at the nomination system after he was thwarted in his attempts to stand in a by-election being held later this month.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

John Morgan wanted to stand as an Independent in the upcoming by-elections being held in the town on Thursday, February 21, for the Cromer seat on North Norfolk District Council, which came up after the death of leader Keith Johnson.

But Mr Morgan, who stood as an Independent in the same ward in 2007, saw his two nomination papers deemed invalid by council electoral services staff.

His first nomination paper was ruled out as one of the people who signed it had already signed another candidate’s nomination.

When he came back with a second paper he claims he had not been told by NNDC staff that he had to provide 10 completely new signatories for his nomination.

He said: “Why else would I have gone back to eight of the people who had previously nominated me if I knew that just one of their names on my form would invalidate it?”

He also claims he was given further misleading advice about how the forms could be filled in.

Mr Morgan has now taken the matter to the electoral commission and has appealed to the Returning Officer to reconsider her decision.

NNDC maintains Mr Morgan was given correct advice by electoral staff.

Returning officer Sheila Oxtoby said: “Unfortunately Mr Morgan submitted two nomination papers, neither of which was completed as required in law.

“He was personally advised on both occasions of what was required for his nomination to be accepted. The legislation governing the nomination of candidates is quite precise; there is no flexibility and the council must abide by the letter of the law.”

13 comments

  • Thanks for the real story Mr. Morgan, you have been truly held back from standing by rigmarole and party political obfuscation, something that has happened before. Independents are allowed the electoral register for the ward they are standing in, it is a public document and it has to be provided once an election has been called and within the nomination period. his again was wrong and the electoral returning officer, obviously not knowing what rules mean,has to stand up for such blatant mis directions.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Norman Lamb will be happy. He needs the Lib Dems to win to put a positive poll on his next leaflet!

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Readers may have been confused to read, online from 17.15 on Friday 25 January and in the EDP the following morning, that my name was included in “the final list” of candidates for the Cromer Town ward vacancy at NNDC. I certainly was. Delighted too: I assumed the appeal against ‘invalid’ nomination I sent to the Returning Officer at 13.30 that Friday afternoon had succeeded, and they just hadn’t yet got around to telling me in a par-for-the-course way. Cruelly, this was not the case, as I eventually discovered about 10pm the following Monday, more than three days after nominations had closed. From the moment I was told, around 10.20 on the Friday morning less than two hours before the deadline, that my second Nomination Paper was invalid, I made it crystal clear that my ‘invalid’ use of eight subscribers who had previously signed my first Nomination Paper was only and solely due to wrong advice from the Returning Officer’s staff in NNDC Electoral Services. No-one would have spent three hours walking the icy streets of Cromer that night to collect eight signatures from previous subscribers knowing that just one of those would invalidate the exercise. Delving deeper into the myriad, opaque and often rules, advice and guidance available to Returning Officers and candidates, I discovered a serious omission regarding my first Nomination: electoral services staff are obliged – the word “must” in the guidance is not equivocal – to offer “an informal check” of a candidate’s nomination before its formal submission. This did not happen. When I presented my first Nomination Paper, just before 16.00 on Thursday 24 January, it was taken from me as a de facto ‘formal’ submission (albeit after insanely wrong advice that I could “describe myself” not solely as “Independent”, as I knew to be the case from the rules, but “in a six word phrase”, presumably any six-word phrase eg VOTE FOR ME OR I’LL KISS YOU). I was not then aware of the requirement for an “informal check” and of course I would – as anyone would – have availed myself of this opportunity, which I repeat was not provided nor “made available” in the election jargon. Such an informal check would have instantly revealed my subscriber who had already subscribed another candidate and I would have been able to make amends. Either by carefully deleting that name and inserting another – which NNDC insisted was not possible (but in fact is permitted)– or laboriously calling again on the eight of the nine available to sign a fresh sheet of paper again that night and adding two new (equally valid) subscribers. Which is exactly what I did on the advice of NNDC Electoral Services. I have been in contact with the Electoral Commission since Monday 28 January, although as yet have received no substantive advance on their “we’re looking into this, will be in touch” response. I wrote to NNDC’s Returning Officer on 31 January at some length and in detail, citing chapter and verse of the relevant rules and guidance, and requesting that she either reinstated me as a candidate in this election, or countermanded the election due to the omissions, breaches of procedure and woefully wrong advice given by her officers. Please note the following from the Electoral Commission’s “Guidelines for Returning Officers”: "You have the power to take such steps as you think appropriate to remedy acts or omissions that arise in connection with any function of the elections...This power allows you to correct procedural errors that you, as Returning Officer, an Electoral Registration Officer, a Presiding Officer or a person providing goods or services to you (or any deputies of any of these) make" I have not yet (as late 6 Feb) received any reply, nor even an acknowledgement, to this communication of 31 January. I have also contacted local MP Norman Lamb – no response – and the party candidates in this election to seek their support for my reinstatement. To date, and to their credit, I have heard only from the Labour Party agent for Jen Hamilton-Emery, who declined to support my appeal. Although I had contacted ArchantEDP about my disqualification and subsequent appeal – in the context of their erroneous article about my candidacy – I have not sought to ‘go public’ until I had exhausted whatever appeal process, itself a definition of vague futility. While I have been royally ill-served, mis-advised, and basically been ‘banned’ by NNDC from standing as a District Councillor for NNDC – “sabotaged” if you will – it seems to me the real losers are the 4,000 voters in Cromer Town ward who as things stand do not have an Independent choice in this election…solely due to the omissions, wrong advice, and breaches of procedure of NNDC’s Returning Officer and her staff. The deck is already well-stacked against Independent candidates – eg they are not allowed a copy of the Electoral Roll, but have to check subscribers’ eligibility and electoral numbers under Returning Officers’ supervision; there is also little advice or guidance in NNDC’s Candidate’s Guide (45 words on subscribers compared to 235 words on use of surnames) – and it doesn’t help when clearly laid-down rules and guidelines are not followed, and plain wrong advice is given about subscribers to Nominations.

    Report this comment

    john morgan

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • he does not have to provide ten new signatures, afaik, but has to strike out the invalid one, replace it, ideally above the invalid name in the same space and initial it. Unless electoral law has changed drastically the advise given was wrong to say the least.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Suffin else, whichever nomination form arrives first at the office, will count as having the signature first, simples. But, as alecto also backs up what I said, the council has not accurately stated the options by the sound of it.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Apologies for length of earlier submission, but this story has not even begun to come out, and for website's inability to cope with paragraphing...

    Report this comment

    john morgan

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • NNDC Returning Officer quoted in EDP: "The legislation governing the nomination of candidates is quite precise; there is no flexibility and the council must abide by the letter of the law.” Electoral Commission’s “Guidelines for Returning Officers”: "You have the power to take such steps as you think appropriate to remedy acts or omissions that arise in connection with any function of the elections...This power allows you to correct procedural errors that you, as Returning Officer, an Electoral Registration Officer, a Presiding Officer or a person providing goods or services to you (or any deputies of any of these) make." These Guidelines also include: para 2.3 – You play a central role in the democratic process. Your role is to ensure that the election is administered effectively and that, as a result, the experience of voters is a positive one.” 2.6 – You are also subject to breach of official duty provisions. This means that if you or your appointed deputies are, without reasonable cause, guilty of any act or omission in breach of official duty you (andor they) are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5,000. 2.9 – Where you remedy an act or omission in full by using your power to correct a procedural error, you will not be guilty of an offence of breach of official duty. There is a clear contradiction here that neither NNDC's Returning Officer nor the Electoral Commission seem in any hurry to address, despite daily hasteners. Kicking this into the long grass (until mid-March?) is not an answer.

    Report this comment

    john morgan

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Interpretation of electoral law does vary from Council to Council and the final arbiter will be the Electoral Commission so Mr Morgan is quite correct in what he has done by appealing to them. My understanding is that the name is neatly crossed out and another name put in. If Mr Morgan is ruled out of this election then he should put himself forward for the County Elections in May. Not long to go now and with the party who last represented this district at an all-time low in the popularity polls he should have no problem as a caring local person who wants to stand as an independent for the good of the people instead of a party sheep.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • It was interesting to read John Morgan's post on what happened. He has been very badly served and I am glad he is pursuing this. If the NNDC have shown bias and a refusal to give advice to any candidate then the election will have to be run again if they do not sort it out before the due election date. As for the rule that he has to have a six word description of the umbrella under which he is standing that is arrant nonsense. Whichever way I look at "Conservative" and "Labour" I cannot see how either of these descriptions constitute six words. I would suggest a conduct complaint is brought against the Returning Officer for showing bias and anti democratic behaviour. Given that there will be more than a few Independents standing in the May Elections all Returning Officers are going to have to have their stories straight otherwise there will be a flood of formal complaints. Google Andy Gardiner, doughty Independent Councillor who is standing in May for County, who has an excellent website and he will be able to point you in the right direction Mr Morgan.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • NNDC Returning Officer quoted in EDP: "The legislation governing the nomination of candidates is quite precise; there is no flexibility and the council must abide by the letter of the law.” Electoral Commission’s “Guidelines for Returning Officers”: "You have the power to take such steps as you think appropriate to remedy acts or omissions that arise in connection with any function of the elections...This power allows you to correct procedural errors that you, as Returning Officer, an Electoral Registration Officer, a Presiding Officer or a person providing goods or services to you (or any deputies of any of these) make." These EC Guidelines also include: para 2.3 – You play a central role in the democratic process. Your role is to ensure that the election is administered effectively and that, as a result, the experience of voters is a positive one. 2.6 – “You are also subject to breach of official duty provisions. This means that if you or your appointed deputies are, without reasonable cause, guilty of any act or omission in breach of official duty you (andor they) are liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5,000. 2.9 – Where you remedy an act or omission in full by using your power to correct a procedural error, you will not be guilty of an offence of breach of official duty. They can’t both be right, and I know the Returning Officer has not given an accurate version of what was said to me: I was there, she wasn’t. It is beyond belief that if I had been “personally advised” as suggested, my immediate subsequent action in collecting eight subscribers’ signatures – just one of which I would have known would invalidate a second nomination – would have been the action of a madman. But there is more than a contradiction involved above. Both the Returning Officer – who appears unaware of the powers of that role – and the Electoral Commission seem unwilling to address this issue, despite daily reminders and the over-riding fact they exist to serve the 4,108 voters in the Cromer Town ward. Some two weeks since nominations closed and I lodged my initial appeal, why am I still waiting for answers?

    Report this comment

    john morgan

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • Electoral Commission? These are the chaps who, amongst other things, are meant to prevent political parties getting up to tricks that are designed to deliberately mislead the electorate, which must be why they allowed the Conservatives to register a whole range of slogans for use on 2010 ballot papers, such as "Go green, vote Conservative".

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • "His first nomination paper was ruled out as one of the people who signed it had already signed another candidate’s nomination" Who says which nomination was signed first? Did the council contact the signatory to ask? Or perhaps both nominations should be declared invalid?

    Report this comment

    suffin else

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • I can see exactly where this fellow went wrong. If he had been a Conservative candidate rest assured he would have received a quick phone call asking him to resubmit, even if the deadline had passed. Oh actually, on second thoughts, his papers would not have been rejected in the first place.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 10°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT