POSTAL voters in Newbury and Thatcham are being urged to carefully check their ballot papers after some are believed to have been thrown away and torn up by mistake.
The arrival of two identical election envelopes has reportedly led to confusion among many voters, with some not realising that one contains ballot papers for the general elections and district council elections, while the other contains papers for the town council elections.
It is estimated it could affect 7,000 postal voters in Newbury and Thatcham.
Lib Dem agent Tony Vickers said: "I was very surprised that the envelopes weren't marked differently. No explanation is given in the first mailing - or by the local electoral officials - about there being a second town council mailing.
"We were expecting the two mailings but there was no Council Press Release before the first one went out. By the time I opened my second, last Friday, we were already getting reports from canvassers and by phone from our supporters indicating confusion."
A statement from West Berkshire Council read: "For a lot those voters, there will be just one pack, giving details of how to vote by post for their parliamentary candidate (the general election) and for their district councillors ( for West Berkshire Council).
"Some voters will get two packs – the second one to elect councillors for their town or parish council. So the message is, if you have applied for a postal vote, read all the packs you receive carefully and follow the instructions."
Although there are 54 parish or town councils in West Berkshire, there are only elections for Newbury Town Council, Thatcham Town Council, and Brimpton, Kintbury, Inkpen, Stanford Dingley, and Stratfield Mortimer parish councils. This is because the other parishes do not have enough people wanting to be parish councillors to warrant an election.
Further details about the forthcoming elections can be found at www.westberks.gov.uk