Camden teenager given second chance to vote in EU referendum

A level student Sophie Neumann is delighted after being given a second chance to vote after accident

A level student Sophie Neumann is delighted after being given a second chance to vote after accidentally spoiling her postal ballot - Credit: John M Fulton

A Camden teenager has been given a second chance to cast her vote in the EU referendum after accidentally spoiling her postal ballot paper.

Sophie Neumann, 18, mistakenly tore along the “do not tear” line of her paper. Believing she could get a replacement, she threw it in the dustbin at her family home in Swiss Cottage.

But Camden Council then informed her she could only have a replacement if she returned the original ballot paper, leaving the A level student feeling disenfranchised and “devastated”.

However, after the Ham&High made enquiries on her behalf, Camden announced that “in light of the particular circumstances of this case”, Sophie will be able to have her say next Thursday after all.

Sophie’s mother, Tina, said: “She will be delighted. It was really important to her that she had her say, and she had read around so much on the subject and really tried to inform herself.

“When the council told us she couldn’t have a replacement, we even went to the recycling place on Regis Road to try and recover the spoiled ballot paper - but it was too late.

“We’d like to thank the paper for intervening, as we were previously told there was nothing that could be done.”

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Sophie heard the news in between sitting two of her exams yesterday, and said: “I am so happy. I was devastated when they told me I couldn’t have a replacement vote initially, as it’s probably going to be the most important election in my lifetime.

“It’s really important that everyone has their say, and as a young person, it really matters that I get to vote on the country’s future.”

She added: “It didn’t say anywhere in the on the voting paper that if you spoiled it, you had to keep it to be able to get a replacement - otherwise I wouldn’t have thrown it away.

“I would like to warn other people who might not realise, so they don’t make the same mistake.”

A statement from the council said: “In light of the particular circumstances of this case and having had support from the Electoral Commission on this particular matter, we are pleased to be able to say we will be providing this resident with a replacement postal vote.

“If anyone is concerned that they have damaged their postal vote or has any questions about the postal voting system, please contact us immediately for advice - retaining the pack and any papers that were sent to you and having them ready to return it if asked.”

The deadline to apply for a postal vote has now passed, but those with postal votes have until 10pm on June 23 (the day of the referendum) to return their ballot papers.