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Election count delayed after vials found in ballot box

POLICE were called to the election count after two vials were found in a ballot box.

The discovery, in a box from St Andrew’s Church Hall in Grimshill
Road, Whitstable, meant the count for Whitstable was delayed for three
hours.

Officials could not identify the yellow-orange liquid in
the vials – which were wrapped in a ballot paper – and handed out gloves
to the counters as a precaution.

Deputy returning officer Colin Carmichael said:

“We have to be
sure we are doing the right thing. We are fairly sure they are harmless
but until the police arrive to confirm that we cannot verify the votes
in that box.”

Once police arrived on the scene they instructed Mr Carmichael
to advise reporters to leave the room – but there was no advice for
candidates, agents or official observers, or for counters. After some refused – including Times staff – officers moved the vials to the bar at the Kings Hall.

After examining the boxes and the papers in them, they were
declared safe and the counting could begin, three hours later than
planned.

Jonathan Elliott, 47, of Sydney Road, Whitstable, was charged
with tampering with nomination papers after two vials of liquid were
found in a ballot box in Herne Bay.

He appeared before Channel Magistrates in Dover on Saturday and the case was adjourned until later this month.

thisiskent 9th May 2013

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