A local councillor has condemned the East Devon Conservatives for sending out letters encouraging people to apply for postal votes with an application and free return envelope addressed to their own party.
The Conservatives said in the letter that they would “make sure” they forwarded the postal vote application to the electoral office.
Cllr John Loudoun (Independent East Devon Alliance, Sidmouth Rural), who is also a district council cabinet member, said he viewed the pack as “cynical electioneering” and “blatant data harvesting”.
The East Devon Conservatives were approached for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.
The letter, signed by Conservative Group Leader for East Devon Cllr Philip Skinner (Conservative, Tale Vale), criticises the district council’s current leadership for being “wasteful” with taxpayer money, and also for “increasing council tax significantly whilst doubling car parking charges and looking to close public toilets.”
With regard to postal votes, it reads: “We’ve included a postal vote application with this letter.
“It takes just a moment to fill it in. You can then return it to the local council… or you can send it back to us free of charge using the envelope provided.
“We’ll make sure it’s sent on to the electoral office within two working days.”
District and town council elections will be held in East Devon on 4 May. You can apply for a postal vote here.
1. I would assume that the only reason for directing the postal vote applications to them to be forwarded is so that they can record the details of whoever has registered for a postal vote. They would then be holding sensitive personal information without the explicit consent of the individual which would IMO be illegal.
2. Bearing in mind electoral law and regulations, is it actually legal / proper for a political party to solicit postal applications in this way, or should it be reported to the electoral commission?