With around 250,000 ballot papers for Eastbourne’s parliamentary and borough elections missing, we look at why ballots are so important.
Casting ballots dates all the way back to Ancient Greece, but ballot papers were first used by the Romans.
Since then, ballots have been popular in casting votes on a number of matters.
In the UK, ballot papers are used in elections - and voters mark their one chosen candidate in the first-post-the-post system of voting.
The ballot paper lists all of the candidates standing in the constituency or ward, alongside the party they are standing for.
On election day ballots are filled out in the privacy of a polling booth and then sealed into the ballot box until they are ready to be counted.
Although ballots do not have the electorates name on them, they do contain a serial number which links to that person, to make sure people aren’t fraudulently casting more than one vote.
However, it is illegal to trace votes and identify how someone has voted.
The ballot papers which were stolen today (April 29), were for both the Eastbourne parliamentary and borough elections, and were printed in two different colours to distinguish them from each other.
Now, the ballots will have to be reprinted in different colours, so the stolen ballots cannot be used fraudulently on May 7.
For more on the stolen ballots, see below.
Blank Eastbourne election ballot papers stolen in van theft
Stolen ballot papers will be replace in time for election, says Eastbourne council
Mystery of stolen Eastbourne ballot papers