Swastika used on Leyland ballot paper

South Ribble election count at Leyland Civic Centre
South Ribble election count at Leyland Civic Centre

An offensive swastika sign was sketched by a Leyland voter to mark which councillor they wanted to represent the area at the recent Lancashire County Council elections.

Someone used the symbol, associated with the Nazis during the Second World War, to vote for one of the candidates in the Leyland South West division.

Coun Michael Green, who won the seat at the elections earlier this month, spoke of his disapproval at a full council meeting in South Ribble on Wednesday.

He said: “A swastika sign was used on a ballot paper in my ward, and it was allowed to go through because it was a ‘clear intension of that person’s voting preference’.

“I think that is debatable, and I feel very strongly that marks of that kind should not be allowed.”

He said the vote was for one of his opponents rather than himself, but did not reveal which candidate it was for.

Council leader Margaret Smith responded: “I agree that it is not a nice thing to appear on any ballot paper, and I will

take it up with the Electoral Commission.”

Helena Hird, from the Electoral Commission, told the Guardian: “It is up to the returning officer to decide if the voter’s intensions are clear, whether that is with a tick or a cross, or any other sign.

“If it is not obvious, then at the end of the count the returning officer will gather the candidates and say what he or she believes the voter intended, and all the candidates must agree with that for the vote to be counted.

“People do use a number of different markings, but our advice is for voters to read the ballot paper and use the appropriate method, which is often a cross, so there is no confusion.

“Everyone’s vote is valid, and you cannot discount it just because you do not agree with the way they marked the ballot paper. The important thing is that it is clear who that person was voting for.”

- What do you think about this issue? Email your views to kay.taylor@lep.co.uk