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Voter 'bemused and angry' over police commissioner election snub

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

Ryszard Winiarski, of Sandfields, Swansea, who was unable to vote in the police commissioner elections

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A POLISH man living in Swansea has branded our country undemocratic after claiming he was barred from voting in the new police commissioner elections.

Ryszard Winiarski, a 65-year-old Polish national who now lives in Sandfields, Swansea, says he is "bemused and angry" after turning up at a polling station in Victoria Park last Thursday, with his ballot card in hand, only to be denied his civic right.

The former teacher, who has lived in Swansea for the past seven years, said: "When I went to vote, one woman found my name on a list and crossed it off before giving me a voting slip, then another took it from me.

"She said that people from Scotland and non-UK countries could not vote.

"Why would they send me a voting card if I wasn't able to vote? I was given the card to vote and then they took it away.

"I am bemused and angry. I have been living here for seven years. I thought Wales and the UK was very democratic.

"I have been a resident here for seven years and have worked for six years doing 14 hours shifts and paying tax. This isn't Russia where you can be accused of fiddling elections.

"This is discrimination against Polish people.

"I definitely expect an apology and I want it confirmed that I am allowed to vote in future elections.

"I enjoy living in Swansea, this is my home, I feel so bad because I was refused doing my duty as a citizen."

Halina Ashley, a founding member of Llanelli's Polish Centre, said that Mr Winiarski should have been allowed to vote in the election.

She said: "They (Polish nationals) all voted in Llanelli without a problem.

"As taxpayers in this country they are allowed to vote in all elections aside from the parliamentary elections."

South Wales Police area returning officer Steven Phillips said: "It would not be appropriate to comment without knowing the full circumstances. I would ask the gentleman to write to either myself as police area returning officer, or to the local returning officer, so we can look into the matter further."

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  • HaroldMonk  |  November 19 2012, 10:03PM

    I'm amazed this guy wanted to take part. If he was entitled to vote then clearly these farcical elections are another embarrassment to the government. Most Poles don't want to mix so good on him for taking an interest.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 19 2012, 9:24PM

    Hadoken838234 i what way has the UK moved away from the EU, A lot of hot air from the rag tag right wing nutters, but as so far very little action. Of course we're going to have a vote AFTER Cameron has won the next election. ha ha ha ha. More chance of the Welsh Rugby side winning team of the year.

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  • abertawejack  |  November 19 2012, 8:56PM

    Sounds like the person checking voters made a boo boo me thinks, unless it was politically motivated:

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  • Hadoken838234  |  November 19 2012, 7:48PM

    Local guy. yes he has a right to vote, but *****ing and making comparisons about russia based on a bad experience he has just goes to show all these immigrants are the same. They stay quiet when things go their way, take the freedom and fairness they are given for granted and would not get anywhere else, then when something happens, its back to radical comparisons of racism to try and get things moving again. I am tired of it and have no issues telling them to their face or online.

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  • Hadoken838234  |  November 19 2012, 7:46PM

    Neathboy, the UK is distancing itself more and more from europe, if you want to join that family, you are more than welcome to move out there. You can get a nice little job in Burger King.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 19 2012, 7:26PM

    Everyone from the EU should be allowed to vote every time here in the UK, we are all part of the family of nations that make up Europe. This odd ruling needs looking at quickly

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  • Julesbreadbox  |  November 19 2012, 4:59PM

    Hey, look, why get upset in the first place? This election was just a bit of 75 million pounds worth of fun for the government,anyway. Now they will have an enquiry which will swallow another xx million pounds. And "at the end of the day"the result will be as usual a statement saying "Lessons will have to be learnt" Job done!

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  • localguy12  |  November 19 2012, 4:32PM

    Hadoken_1337 this is racist comment, probably he is thinking the same about Muslim or black people The guy has a right to vote, if he couldn't that is unlawful.

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  • JerryLew  |  November 19 2012, 4:01PM

    65 years of age and only 6 years of paying tax in the UK. Also if he was working 14 hrs a day it was not as a teacher. So now he has full NHS rights and others. I've paid taxes for 30 years and he has the same rights as me - and dont forget any family members he has in this country get the same rights. If he does not like being here go home - better still rent a bus and take a load back with him.

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  • townhilltom  |  November 19 2012, 11:45AM

    @ geoboy01.....the answer is yes, apart from Parliamentary elections. @arnoldlane.....the guy is from another member country of the EU, and is allowed to move and work freely in member states; as you and any other person can also do, and as I did 30 years ago.

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