Election watchdog to report on Pendle MP’s concerns over abuse of postal system (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Election watchdog to report on Pendle MP’s concerns over abuse of postal system
THE UK’s elections watchdog is to respond to East Lancashire MP Andrew Stephenson’s concerns about “family” postal vote fraud in a report due out in the next few weeks.
The Pendle Tory raised the issue in a House of Commons debate on voting law last month alleging the practice was common in the South Asian community in his and neighbouring constituencies, citing evidence from May’s local council polls.
His fears are shared by Blackburn Labour MP Jack Straw and his Burnley Liberal Democrat counterpart Gordon Birtwistle as police investigations into alleged vote fraud at last month’s polls are under way in Blackburn and Hyndburn.
This week Mr Stephenson met the Electoral Commission’s Andrew Scallan (Director of Electoral Administration) and Tom Hawthorn (Head of Electoral Policy) to discuss the issue as they prepare a report on the conduct of last month’s polls to be published next month.
After the Westminster meeting, Mr Stephenson said: “I raised my concerns about family postal voting fraud in East Lancashire in Reedley Ward, Pendle and elsewhere.
“I am hopeful they will bring in extra safeguards around this but not optimistic they will recommend what I and others MPs want — an end to postal voting on demand.
Former Labour Cabinet Minister Mr Straw, who has raised postal and proxy voting problems with the Commission, said: “I hope the officials take note of what Mr Stephenson said and do something to improve the situation.”
Mr Hawthorn said: “Mr Stephenson MP raised a number of concerns about electoral fraud following May's local elections.
“We take such concerns very seriously.”