Call for close vote recount following local elections

An independent candidate narrowly defeated in last week’s local elections says the vote should be counted once again.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 4:33 pm
Independent Network candidate for Ashton Michael Moulding

Michael Moulding, who stood for the Independent Network (IN) in Ashton, was just 35 votes short in his bid to oust Labour cabinet member Coun Jenny Bullen from the chamber.

Mr Moulding says the council should look again at how the votes were cast in the ward as he claims the returning officer overseeing the count did not always follow the correct procedures.

He says he was not given enough time to consider the close result when the candidates and their agents were brought onto stage before the result was publicly announced and it was not made clear enough that he could ask for the votes to be counted again.

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However, he was very clear he was not suggesting there had been deliberate electoral wrongdoing and praised the local authority staff who had worked until the early hours of the morning to get the results out.

Mr Moulding said: “This is a very serious situation. The legislation says the returning officer must give me time to digest the result before they move on and offer me the opportunity of a recount and they didn’t do so.

“When the result is so close and I have lost by just 35 votes it is completely reasonable for me to request a recount.

“I’m not making any allegations of dishonesty and integrity, absolutely not. The staff have worked tirelessly and as far as I am concerned they have done a great job throughout.”

Mr Moulding says he has spoken to Wigan Council over his concerns about electoral procedure and is awaiting a formal response.

It is possible his concerns could result in an election petition being lodged in court.

Wigan Council suggested this is Mr Moulding’s only viable route to query the Ashton result and also denied he was not offered a recount.

Brendan Whitworth, assistant director for legal services, said: “Like all candidates Mr Moulding was made aware of the provisional result and had the opportunity to request a recount at the election count last Thursday but did not do so.

“We have no evidence to suggest the count was not conducted in accordance with the law.

“There is no provision for the returning officer to conduct a recount after the result has been declared, however, if Mr Moulding wishes to challenge the election result or processes he can do so via an election petition to the courts.”