A UKIP supporter claims he was 'duped' into voting for an obscure party with a similar name.
Wycombe resident Stephen Boyes said he was ‘frustrated and annoyed’ after realising he and his wife voted for An Independence from Europe Party instead of the UK Independence Party.
Incensed and concerned other voters could fall foul of the “misleading” name and slogan on the paper, he wrote to The Electoral Commission to complain.
The 69-year-old said: “The ballot paper had about 20 different parties on it, folded into four parts, and the top one was An Independence from Europe Party with the slogan ‘UK Independence Now’.
“It was very confusing and we ended up voting for the wrong party. I think it is wrong a party can be allowed to have such a similar name as another party.
“It is misleading and, it appears to me, it was a deliberate ploy by AIEP to put the ‘an’ at the front of their name to get to the top of the list and grab votes.”
Responding to Mr Boyes’ complaint, the commission said AIEP passed a number of its tests, as set out by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, and the two names were sufficiently different.
In an email, it said: “Neither the party name An Independence from Europe nor the description, UK Independence Now, was already on the register.
“We also considered the test of whether the name and description could result in voters confusing them with names or descriptions that are already registered.
“We decided that although there are some overlapping words, the party name and description are sufficiently different from those registered by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to mean that, in our opinion, voters were not likely to confuse them with the UKIP name and descriptions.”
Wycombe’s UKIP Parliamentary candidate David Meacock said the commission’s failure to act meant ‘our democracy is being undermined’.
He added: “Just a casual look at both the circumstances surrounding the formation of AIEP as well as its identical colour scheme shows that the AIEP is clearly intended to imitate UKIP.”
Brian Mapletoft, Chairman of Wycombe UKIP, urged residents to “take extra care” when casting their vote in the European Parliament Elections on May 22.
The Eurosceptic AIE party was set up by former MEP Mike Nattrass after he was deselected as a UKIP candidate for the upcoming elections.