I had always understood that the rule used to be that provided an elector had turned up at the polling station by 10pm they would be allowed to vote. If the queue stretched outside the polling station, then a presiding officer would go outside and stand at the end of the queue – anyone arriving later would be refused a vote but all those queuing before 10pm would be given ballot papers.
So what went wrong today?
It looks as if the Electoral Commission have taken it upon themselves to tighten up the rules by saying that only those to whom a ballot paper had actually been issued by 10pm would be allowed to vote. This is demonstrably unfair because if local council election administrators fail to employ enough polling station staff there will be queues and the problems we have seen tonight will occur.
I hate to be partisan but who runs Sheffield City Council (where the problems were first reported)? The Liberal Democrats.