I’ve just received an election mail shot signed by Joe Anderson, the Labour candidate for Mayor of Liverpool. The envelope had no post mark or stamp on it so I assume it was delivered by hand.
The first page is a fairly standard letter outlining why Joe Anderson thinks he would be a great candidate for mayor and what he intends to do if elected as on May 3rd. The page is branded with the party colours, logo and Joe’s face. It is clearly a piece of election propaganda. No problems there at all.
The second page is a bit different. There is no branding, no party colours and no lovely little picture of Joe – the design clearly separates it from the first page. It looks like the sort of guidance sheet you would expect to get with a postal ballot. At first I thought it was my postal ballot and I was wondering why there was Labour propaganda in the same envelope.
The page is titled “How to fill in your postal ballot paper” so you would reasonably expect that it would explain how to fill in your postal ballot paper but this is not the case. It shows you how to vote for the two Labour candidates in the mayoral and council election. As if that wasn’t odd enough the letter goes on to urge you to call the campaign hotline “if you have any questions about your postal vote”. I can only imagine how fair and unbiased the advice they offer would be.
I’d like to think that most people would see this for the cheap trick that it is and disregard the advice but there are bound to be people out there who think this is official guidance and will fill in their ballots as per its instructions.
And another thing, how exactly does Joe know I requested a postal ballot? I understand that candidates have access to a list of registered voters for campaigning purposes but surely that doesn’t specify the type of ballot you will receive. I also find it quite odd that I have received nothing from any other candidate. Is it just an odd co-incidence that Joe is the current leader of Liverpool council? I can’t say for sure either way.
It’s one thing for a candidate to send out a mail shot that outlines why they would be a good choice, but to tell people in an official looking letter to vote for a specific candidate and to call the campaign hotline if they have any questions about voting really crosses a line for me. I wonder what the electoral commission would make of this?