Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Clegg dismisses vote law change after queue blunder

Queues outside polling station
Image caption Voters at Sheffield Hallam were among those affected

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has dismissed calls for a change in the law to ensure that people in polling station queues can cast their vote.

Hundreds of people queued for more than three hours at five polling stations in Sheffield during May's general election and 500 were unable to vote at all.

Sheffield Heeley's Labour MP Meg Munn said there should be a change in the law so people in queues can vote.

Mr Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, said the problem was "lack of organisation".

At Commons question time, Ms Munn asked: "Why have you not taken the opportunity of legislation currently before Parliament to change the law so that in future, all those in the polling stations at close of poll are allowed to vote?"

The Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill has cleared the Commons and is now going through the House of Lords.

'Huge queues'

Sheffield City Council is to train more staff to handle queues at polling stations after the problems in May, which it has admitted were "embarrassing".

Mr Clegg said: "I'm acutely aware of the problem - I visited the polling stations several times on that day and saw the huge queues of people, many of whom who were in the end denied their democratic right to exercise a vote.

"The question then is - what do we do about it? I just so happen to think in this particular instance, simply passing a law won't deal with the problem.

"The problem was a lack of resources, the problem was poor organisation by the returning officer in Sheffield, who acknowledged as much. That's what we need to address - not always simply reach for the statute book."

Mr Clegg was standing in for David Cameron, who is on a trade visit to China and South Korea.

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