Voters in Swindon have told of their shock and dismay at receiving letters telling them they were not entitled to have their say at the general election.

About 3,000 people – those registered as postal voters – got the letters from Swindon Borough Council on Wednesday but they were then told to ignore them.

The council has now sent another letter by first-class mail apologising and assuring people they will not lose their vote.

But Shelagh Gough, who lives in Old Town, in the South Swindon constituency thinks the matter shouldn’t be waved off as an unfortunate error.

The 68-year-old said: “This goes to the very heart of what we are as a country, to our democracy.

“Anyone who is on the electoral register is entitled to vote.

"I don’t think the council has the right to tell people they are not entitled to be registered, unless it can prove that.”

As well as the shock of being told she was not registered, Shelagh objected to the wording of the letter.

“It says ‘I am of the opinion you are not entitled to remain registered at this address’. I thought what do I do now, do I have to show my passport, do I have to take a bill?

“It’s made me want to go along and not rely on a postal vote.

"It’s shaken my trust in our democracy and historically women suffered very much to get the vote and the thought of losing it is outrageous.

“It’s also significant that it was postal voters, who might tend to be more elderly. They might be more likely to just give up their vote. Nobody should be having their right to vote taken away from them.”

Another voter who is also still disconcerted despite official reassurances is Paul Ayres, 44, who lives in Moredon in the North Swindon constituency.

He said: “I was really shocked when I got the letter. It had an official number on it and I didn’t know what was going on.”

Mr Ayres is registered to use a postal vote.

He said: “There’s three of us in the house here but only I got a letter, so I don’t know why that was. It would be interesting to see who the ones who got the letters were.

“I’m still a bit worried. This is a really important election and I’m now waiting for my postal vote to be sent to me, I’ll be a lot happier when it arrives.

“I know they said it was just a mistake and it should be ignored, but it’s still very worrying, especially that I’m clearly on some sort of official list or database.”

Another recipient was Anthony Clarkson. He said: “Having voted in six local, two general and two European elections in seven years at my current address, I was shocked to receive one of these letters. This is unacceptable, especially this close to a very important election.

Swindon Borough Council said apologised on its Facebook page and said the error occurred when its printers used an out-of-date mailing list.

When the news broke, South Swindon Labour candidate Sarah Church said the council should make a “concerted effort” to inform people they can still vote.

Her Conservative opponent, Robert Buckland, defending the seat, agreed. He tweeted: “I have been in touch with the chief executive earlier and apology letters are going out. Many friends who have lived in the same address for years have been subject to this unacceptable error.”

The deadline to register to vote is midnight on Tuesday, November 26. Register at