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Judge backs East Lancashire MP on postal voting fraud
3:00pm Wednesday 12th March 2014 in News
A JUDGE has supported East Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson’s call for postal voting to be drastically scaled back.
The Pendle Tory has repeatedly warned the process is open to fraud.
The Electoral Commission has expressed concern about abuse in 16 areas including Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Burnley, and Pendle.
In a documentary broadcast last night, Judge Richard Mawrey said he had not the system is wide open to fraud.
In May 2012, Mr Stephenson used a Parliamentary debate to accuse members of the Asian community of falsifying postal votes.
That year, Lancashire Police referred a file on ‘proxy voting’ in Accrington’s Barnfield ward to the Crown Prosecution Service, while investigations in two other wards in Hyndburn, and two in Blackburn with Darwen, found no evidence of wrong-doing.
Electoral Commission chair Jenny Watson said it would not be ‘proportionate’ to end postal voting altogether.
The government has no plans to abolish the current system extended in 2001 so anyone on the electoral roll can apply for a postal ballot.
BBC Radio’s File on 4 last night revealed allegations that political activists are pressuring families into voting for their candidate, or illegally taking ballot papers away to fill them in themselves.
Mr Stephenson said in the broadcast: “There is real fraud going on.
“The government should really look at this issue and really look at going back to only allowing postal votes to people who have a genuine need.
“Everybody else should turn up at the polling station, like they always used to have to, in order to cast their vote.”
Judge Mawrey, who tries corruption cases, agreed: “Postal voting on demand, however many safeguards you build into it, is wide open to fraud...”
Woking returning officer Ray Morgan said: “I don't think any election that I've personally officiated over since 2006 has been totally fair and honest.”
Pendle peer Tony Greaves said: “Postal voting cannot be secure and secret and should be restricted to those who genuinely cannot turn up at a polling station.”
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