The conduct of elections has come under the microscope in recent weeks. Joshua Rozenberg noted (see [2010] Gazette, 13 May, 8) that section 23 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 says that ‘no parliamentary election shall be declared invalid by reason of any act or omission by the returning officer or any other person in breach of his official duty…

if… the election was so conducted as to be substantially in accordance with the law as to elections and the act or omission did not affect its result’.

Trade union employment lawyers might ask why parliament did not adopt the same relaxed approach when setting out the requirements for industrial action ballots.

Unite was unable to proceed with lawful strike action against BA in December 2009 because, despite a massive majority in favour, a small number of members who were no longer eligible to vote had received ballot papers.

Their latest ballot was also challenged by BA on the grounds that members were not informed of the result in the prescribed manner, despite widespread media reporting of the outcome.

Trade unions have to jump through a whole succession of moving hoops to produce a valid outcome. By comparison, it’s a walk in the park for those responsible for elections to parliament.

Mark Turnbull, Thompsons Solicitors, Liverpool