Police investigate voting in Hyndburn

First published in Hyndburn

POLICE have launched an investigation into voting at this month’s local elections.

Labour officials have made a complaint about irregularities concerning proxy votes in Hyndburn.

A proxy vote is when votes are placed at the polling station on somebody’s behalf, usually when they are unable to leave the house or are on holiday and have chosen not to vote via post.

Police said they had also launched an investigation into claims constituency MP Graham Jones had intimidated voters.

They said this was not connected with the proxy votes allegations.

Mr Jones when contacted by the Lancashire Telegraph decined to comment while the investigation was on-going.

It is understood the proxy voting investigation allegations concern a number of votes and that voters were persuaded to allow someone they did not know to act on their behalf.

In Hyndburn, 387 votes were placed by proxy at the election, which took place on Thursday, May 3.

The three wards with the highest number of proxy votes were Central, 136 votes, Barnfield, 96, and Spring Hill, 72.

Hyndburn Council returning officer Jane Ellis said she was aware of the allegations but it was a police issue.

Steve Rumbelow, Burnley Council's chief executive and returning officer, said usually he would not expect to see more than a 'handful' of postal votes per ward.

He said: "The need for proxy votes reduced a great deal when they brought in postal voting. The number of proxy votes per ward is usually a very small number, a relative handful in most cases."

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said although proxy votes were a good idea in principle, they could be manipulated.

He said: “I once voted on my wife’s behalf when she was out of the country.

“In principle it is generally agreed they are a good idea.

“But we have to keep looking at ways to improve security around them.”

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