DARLINGTON Borough Council has issued a question-and-answer document following today's error over ballots.

The general election foul-up resulted in dozens of votes being cast from papers which did not include the name of Ukip candidate David Hodgson.

Acting returning officer Cath Whitehead has issued an apology to Mr Hodgson and the voters who were affected.

The full Q&A follows...

How did this happen?

The ballot papers are printed by polling station to ensure that each station has enough papers for voters in that area. Whessoe polling station had papers for the Darlington and Sedgefield parliamentary constituencies.

There are five candidates in Sedgefield and six in Darlington. The guillotine of the ballot papers for the Darlington constituency was set in error for the size of the ballot paper for Sedgefield constituency and therefore the last candidate was cut off the paper. This was not picked up by us in our checking process.

Why were the ballot papers at that polling station different from ballot papers at other polling stations?

See above

Are you attempting to contact those 89 voters to allow them to re-cast their votes?

No, the 89 votes will be counted as they are. They are mixed with other papers in the box and to pull the relevant papers would risk braking the confidentiality of the ballot box.

Will this mistake invalidate the result, prompting a need for a speedy by-election?

The election result will stand unless it is challenged. If it is, a court will decide whether the result will stand.

Who is to blame?

The Acting Returning Officer is responsible for the conduct of the general election.

Can we confirm that it’s Whessoe?

The only polling station affected was the Whessoe Village Polling station and the Harrowgate Hill ward within Darlington constituency.

Was it four hours before it was spotted?

Concerns were raised shortly after 10am, once we established the facts, new ballot papers were issued.

Will those 89 votes be counted?

Yes, please refer to the statement above.

Will there be a recount?

Not automatically, it depends on what happens at the count.

Are the 89 ballots spoiled?

We don’t know until we open the ballot box.

Why did it take so long to spot?

Unfortunately, as stated above, the error wasn’t picked up at the checking stage.

Have all of the other polling stations been contacted to ensure the ballot papers are correct?

Yes, all of the other polling stations have ballot papers with all of the names.