Council Disenfranchisement

Like much of the UK, there are local elections where I live next month. After coming home from a week of Three Rings volunteering I found my poll card on the doormat. Can you spot the bleeding-obvious mistake?

Poll card for West Oxfordshire District Council (and other) local elections on 2 May 2024 addressed to "Dan Que".
Also interesting was that this year the poll card came in a tamper-evidence tear-to-open envelope rather than just being a piece of card. Does the government now think that postal workers are routinely stealing voter identities? Cohabitees?

This’ll be the first election for which I’ve needed to bring photographic ID to the polling station. That shouldn’t be a problem: I have a passport and driving license and whatnot.

But just to be absolutely certain, I had the local council – the same people who issued me the polling card! – supply me with a voter authority certificate:

Voter Authority Certificate for "Dan Q".
Note that this document, also issued by West Oxfordshire District Council, spells my name correctly.

So now I’m in a pickle. West Oxfordshire District Council are asking me to produce photo ID in the wrong name when I turn up at a polling station next month. It doesn’t even match the name on the photo ID that they themselves issued me.

This would be less-infuriating were it not for the fact that they had my name wrong in the same way on an electoral roll form they sent me in August 20221. When I contacted them to have them fix it, they promised that the underlying problem was solved2 so this very thing wouldn’t happen.

And yet here we are.

Sign on the fence of a school playground reading, in block capitals: "Polling station for Dan Q's imaginary friends only".

Hopefully they’ll be able to fix their records promptly or else I guess I’ll have to apply for a proxy vote, to allow the ballot of my imaginary friend “Dan Que” to be cast by me, Dan Q, instead.

And if that isn’t the most bizarre form of election fraud you’ve ever heard of, I don’t know what is.

Update: True to their word, the council had managed to correct their records by the time I reached the polling station this morning. It’s still a little annoying that they somehow mucked it up in the first place, but I appreciate the efficiency with which they corrected their mistake.


1 They’d had my name right before August 2022, including on previous poll cards; I can only assume that some human operator “corrected” it to the wrong thing at some point.

2 They didn’t fix the problem immediately in August 2022. Initially, they demanded that I produce proof of my change of name from “Dan Que” (which has, of course, never been my name!) to “Dan Q”, and only later backed down and admitted that they’d made a mistake and would correct the PII they were holding about me.

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  1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    I emailed WODC and, impressively, they got back to me on a Sunday morning at 8am to tell me that they’d fixed the records at their side.

    We’ll find out, I guess, on polling day!

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      Update: True to their word, the council had managed to correct their records by the time I reached the polling station this morning. It’s still a little annoying that they somehow mucked it up in the first place, but I appreciate the efficiency with which they corrected their mistake. More…

  2. Katie Katie says:

    This is the kind of beautiful government deftness that I can’t be angry about because why wouldn’t they just take it upon themselves to change the spelling of your name?!

  3. Adriana Guimaraes Hands Adriana Guimaraes Hands says:

    Dear Dan Q,

    It was a pleasure to read this story. Thank you for sharing.
    I made a mistake of not reading the instructions before completing the form, so I have added family members as witnesses.

    I need your kind advice on how to cancel that and start again please.

    Please let me take the opportunity to say that I really appreciate all your work and value your contribution in making a difference in this world.

    My kindest Regards

    Adriana Hands

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:


      It sounds like you’re making a Deed Poll via, and you’ve used family members as your witnesses. While not strictly forbidden, it’s generally-advised against using close family as witnesses where possible so as to prevent any (unlikely) claims of coercion and the like. If you go ahead with your family as witnesses you’ll probably be okay, but it’d certainly be worth starting over with somebody else.

      To do that, just go back to, fill out the correct details, print your new deeds, and sign them: that’s all there is to it. There’s no record kept at “my” side of anybody who uses the service, so there’s nothing to change except what’s already in your hands.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Oh dear, I be that “que” surname pops up a lot isn’t it?

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      Only when people hear my name and guess the spelling, which isn’t that common: most places I get to fill in a form, either on a computer (in which case I sometimes have to spell it “Qq”, “Q-“, “Q'”, or “Q ” to get around well-meaning-but-silly prohibitions on single-character surnames) or on paper.

      Which is why this one confuses me so much. I gave them my name when I first moved to this house, by posting them a letter. They spelled it correctly on an Electoral Roll “details checking” letter. But on the subsequent letter they’d mis-spelled it: therefore a human must have stepped in and manually “corrected” my name. I told them to fix it (this is a couple of years ago!) and they did, but now they’ve un-fixed it again. I’m not sure how they’re managing it!

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