§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the case that the result of the late South Northumberland Election was gravely affected by the negligence of deputy returning officers in not stamping several ballot papers with the official stamp; whether, at the late election at Southampton, about one hundred and ten ballot papers were void and not counted, of which about seventy were voided by the neglect of a deputy returning officer at a single booth; whether any amendment of the Ballot Act is contemplated by the Government; and, further, if any circular has been issued by the Home Office to returning officers of the nature of that suggested by the Select Committee on Parliamentary and Municipal Elections which sat in 1876?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
, in reply, said, it was quite understood that, at the late South Northumberland Election Scrutiny, it was discovered that three ballot papers without the official stamp were counted for one candidate, and nine for another; and at the Southampton Election he understood 70 papers were, by the error of one of the revising officers, marked with the registered numbers of the voter, which, of course, had to be rejected in counting the votes, and the remainder of the rejected ballot papers were void in consequence of the acts of the voters themselves. No amendment of the Ballot Act was at present contemplated by the Government. He regretted to say that his attention had not been called to the paragraph of the Report of the Committee referred to, and therefore no Circular had been issued, but it should receive his consideration.