General Election 2015: Van containing 200,000 ballot papers stolen overnight

 
Catherine Neilan
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New ballot papers will be sent to Hastings and Eastbourne, printed on different coloured paper (Source: Getty)
Thieves have stolen a van containing more than 200,000 ballot papers for constituencies in the south east.
The vehicle – which is not thought to have been stolen for its contents – held 72,300 voting slips for Hastings and Rye and 130,000 for Eastbourne.
The papers had been printed in London and were being taken to the local authorities ahead of the General Election on May 7. The Metropolitan Police alerted both local councils about the theft, which took place in London overnight.
According to the BBC, police think it was a coincidence that it contained ballot papers, although the incident is still being investigated.
Both councils are taking no chances however. In Eastbourne the replacements are being printed on different coloured paper to the originals to ensure any stolen papers could be easily detected and removed.
A spokesman for Hastings added: "We have been in touch with the Electoral Commission and following their guidance we have put a process in place which will ensure that these ballot papers are not used for fraudulent purposes and cannot be included in the count.
"We have also made arrangements for delivery of further ballot papers.
"We've spoken to the Metropolitan Police and it very much seems like it was a case of mistaken identity - we don't believe they deliberately targeted the ballot papers. I expect there are some very disappointed thieves out there somewhere.
"We will be able to tell if the papers used were stolen. The ones that we will be using will be different to the one that were stolen."

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