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Why was I denied my chance to vote?

By Ely News  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

Thomas Chatfield.

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A furious NHS worker says he is angry that he was turned away from a polling station despite arriving before 10pm.

Thomas Chatfield, 31, says it was 9.55pm “on the dot” when he turned up at Ely Methodist Church, in Chapel Street, to vote in last Thursday’s European elections.

But officers at the polling station insisted it was 10pm when he arrived, and that he was therefore too late to vote.

Mr Chatfield, who works as a support carer and lives with his partner, Carly Hayward, and young daughter, Lilliana-Mae, in Ely’s West Fen Road, said: “I’m pretty disgusted to be honest.

“I’d worked five night shifts in the run up to Thursday which is why I couldn’t get to the polling station until I did.

“I live a five-minute walk from the church so I left the house in good time to arrive before voting closed.

“When I arrived it was 9.55pm on the dot. It said 9.55pm on both my mobile phone, which is satellite updated, and Ely Cathedral’s clock.

“As I stepped through the door the ladies shouted out: “We’re closed”. I said to them that it wasn’t 10pm yet and showed them my mobile phone, but they said I couldn’t come in.

“What makes it even more frustrating is that there was a woman inside the hall casting her vote as they told me to leave.”

Mr Chatfield added: “As I was walking home I called my partner to tell her I hadn’t been able to vote and ironically the cathedral clock started chiming as it does every hour, which proves I was at the polling station before 10pm.

“Fair enough the officers had had a long day and probably just wanted to head off home but I was denied my opportunity to vote.

“I’m not sure whether they didn’t like the look of me – I am a young man with tattoos, a beard and big holes in my ears.”

In East Cambridgeshire, the Conservatives polled 31.8 per cent of the vote and UKIP secured 31.2 per cent. Labour secured 12.1 per cent, the Lib Dems polled 10.9 per cent and the Green party secured around 10 per cent of the vote.

Mr Chatfield said he was planning to vote for the Green party.

A council spokesman said: “We have spoken to the officers who were presiding at the polling station and they both have independently confirmed that a man arrived at the polling station with the intention to vote but this was after 10pm.

“The rules at elections are very clear for both voters and those presiding at a count – if you are in the polling station before 10pm you are entitled to vote, if you have arrived at the station after 10pm unfortunately you cannot.”

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