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Galloway in postal vote election theft claim

April 21, 2010

“Once again elections in Tower Hamlets are being stolen from the people.” So said George Galloway yesterday as he wrote to the police, the Electoral Commission and the Tower Hamlets Returning Officer to voice his fears.

Galloway raised the fact Jim Fitzpatrick has sent out freepost postal voting forms urging voters to return the form not to Electoral Services but to him at Labour Party HQ. “If this isn’t illegal,” said Galloway, “it ought to be. Voters have to ask what possible reason could Jim Fitzpatrick have for receiving these forms rather than having them sent directly to Electoral Services at Tower Hamlets Town Hall.”

But Galloway also raised even more serious allegations against candidates who are using friends and family to obtain blank ballot papers which they will then have filled in to their advantage. “We know which candidates are corrupting the electoral process and we intend to provide the police with all the information we have. Those candidates need to know that if they are caught and convicted, they will go to jail for a long time. In Blackburn, a Labour councillor was sentenced to three years recently.”

It is thought undercover officers are at work trying to root out the voting fraud which has undermined confidence in elections in Tower Hamlets in recent years.

Ends

For further information contact Rob Hoveman on 07507 600561

Notes to editors:

The letter to the police, the Electoral Commission and the Returning Officer is reproduced below

To Dr Kevan Collins, Returning Officer London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Borough Commander Paul Rickett, Ms Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission and Mr Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission Dear Dr Collins, Commander Rickett, Ms Watson and Mr Wardle,

Once again it seems there is the very strong likelihood that the elections in tower Hamlets on 6th May will be besmirched by significant voting fraud and corruption courtesy of the postal voting on demand system. I have confirmed reports of candidates, including sitting councillors, signing up voters, particularly elderly voters, on the basis that those voters will then provide their unfilled ballot papers to friends and family acting on behalf of those candidates. These ballot papers will then be filled in by persons others than the voter themselves to the benefit of those candidates and other candidates they support.

Although this is definitely going to happen and I believe on a significant enough scale to affect the outcome of at least some of the elections to be held in Tower Hamlets, this is an almost undetectable crime if witnesses will not come forward. Because securing these ballot papers involves friends and family, witnesses will usually not come forward unfortunately. And as Isabella Freeman points out in her response to my letter to the Tower Hamlets Returning Officer, if voters give their ballot papers to others, there is nothing that can be done about it, even though these others would then be committing a serious criminal offence in procuring and filling in these ballot papers.

This is the fundamental flaw in the postal voting on demand system which the major parties, presumably because they are beneficiaries of this system, and the Electoral Commission continue to refuse to take seriously. For all the tightening up in the system there has been. postal votes on demand undermines fundamentally the secrecy of the ballot that was secured after long struggle in 1872. There is absolutely no solid evidence that turnout is higher because of postal voting on demand and in my view any slightly high turnout is outweighed by the undermining of the integrity of the election.

I am also extremely concerned to find that at least one of the candidates in the constituency I am contesting, the incumbent government minister Jim Fitzpatrick, has been sending letters to voters urging them to take out a postal vote by filling in the council’s postal voting form which is then to be returned to him at Tower Hamlets Labour headquarters through a freepost address handily attached to the back of the form by Mr Fitzpatrick. If this is not illegal, it ought to be. It certainly breaches those guidelines produced by the Electoral Commission which require candidates and parties not to engage in any activity which might bring suspicion of corrupting the voting process. The question every voter should ask is why should this postal voting form be sent to Jim Fitzpatrick rather than directly to Electoral Services at Tower Hamlets Town Hall where it belongs.

I urge all of you to do all in your powers, limited as they sadly seem to be, to try to ensure that the elections in Tower Hamlets are not once again undermined and potentially stolen from the people by a system which remains fundamentally flawed.

I look forward to your responses.

Yours sincerely,

George Galloway

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 27, 2010 3:24 pm

    “As the battle-ground comes closer to conclusion – there are reports that campaigning is taking a form that is seen in Bangladeshi Elections: allegations of impending fraud, scuffles in campaigning and the constant battering of illegitimate propaganda.”

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