A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission has confirmed that the EU referendum will be delayed by four weeks after a ‘very serious error’ was uncovered on millions of voting papers that have been printed in preparation for Thursday June 23rd. According to a statement that was released this evening, the error had the potential to ‘trick’ voters into marking the box to leave the European Union, and as a result the referendum will now need to be postponed until all of the papers have been reprinted.
The statement said: ‘It is with regret that we announce that the EU referendum vote in the UK has been postponed until Thursday 21st July 2016 – this is due to a very serious error on the printed voting papers that has just been brought to our attention. As part of the due diligence process leading up to any national ballot, we send sample voting papers to five independent laboratories so that they can be analysed for any potential problems, and all five facilities reported back that the box to express a desire to ‘leave’ the European Union is 0.0001 mm larger than the box that must be marked to ‘remain.’ As a result of this error, we have no other option but to reprint the entire batch of voting papers for the UK – postal voting papers are now been analysed as a matter of extreme urgency.’
Southend News Network contacted an expert in perceptive behaviours to find out why a 0.0001 mm difference could be so important. Dr Harry Smoth of the University of West Benfleet said: ‘Normally such a tiny difference would only be visible with a microscope, but studies have shown that in times of intense electoral activity the human brain becomes capable of sub-consciously recognising minute changes in state. In simple terms, there was a huge risk here that a ‘game changing’ number of voters would have chosen ‘leave’ without even thinking about it.’
At the time of going to press, a number of senior Vote Leave campaigners have appealed the decision on the grounds that the date switch will cost the taxpayer anything up to £592bn – this figure is based on fiscal projectory evidence that has not been made available at this time.
A source within the Electoral Commission hinted that the error may have occurred due to a ‘text box error’ in the original Microsoft Word document that was used to create the universal template. A leaked email seen by Southend News Network speculates that the voting form’s designer didn’t hold down the CTRL key when they were drawing the second voting box.