PLANS for June's council and European Union elections to be all-postal were in chaos today.
Town hall staff are urging the Government to take swift action after the House of Lords blocked the proposals.
Peers voted by a 58-margin against all-postal voting in both Yorkshire and the North-West.
It was a serious blow with barely three months left to the polls.
The Association of Electoral Administrators said it was concerned that authorities covering millions of electors do not know what voting system they will be using.
The Government originally announced all-postal ballots in the East Midlands and North-East.
Last month, it added Yorkshire and the North-West.
But these two have now been struck out by the Lords.
Electoral officers, meeting for their conference in Blackpool, said a firm decision was needed - either way - soon. A spokesman for the association said: "We are concerned that the House of Lords has decided not to support the European Elections Pilots Bill.
"Although the AEA has a neutral stance on the legislation, it was extremely concerned about the late decision to introduce electoral pilot schemes and then to extend the number of pilot regions from two to four.
"The subsequent events in the Lords add to the concerns that there is insufficient time to organise all-postal elections. The chances of error are magnified when such decisions are rushed.
"The association urges Parliament to resolve the matter now, as it will soon be too late to organise the election properly."
The Government was today indicating that it intended to reverse the vote.
Junior constitutional affairs minister Christopher Leslie said the aim of an all-postal ballot was that the aim was to increase choice and convenience for voters.
"I have no illusions about the complexity of all this and the short timescale within which preparations need to be complete," he said.
He added: "The Government is committed to improving the way that it engages with people and to strengthening participation in the democratic process."
Electoral Commission chairman Sam Younger forecast that by 2010 all-postal voting would be the norm for local elections and that there would also be a national electronic register of electors.
Clr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council's Labour group, said: "It is ironic that the unelected House Lords is making decisions about elections. They have thrown the whole process into disarray by voting against the will of the elected Government."