Sixteen local authorities identified as “high risk” will post extra police at polling stations for tomorrow’s local and European elections. The Electoral Commission has identified the areas – which have large Asian Muslim populations – as particularly susceptible to voter intimidation and electoral fraud.
The police will prevent activists gathering in large numbers at the ballot boxes to intimidate voters into voting for a particular candidate. The sixteen areas include: Oldham, Blackburn, Burnley and Pendle in Lancashire.
Another example is the London Borough of Tower Hamlets where police will be present at every single one of their 125 Polling Stations, according to Sky News. The borough has been the subject of widespread allegations of vote rigging for a number of years but has recently taken action.
Staff at the council have been visiting households that have large numbers of voters registered to check they are real. This has led to over 5000 names being taken off the electoral register. The system in Great Britain, but not Northern Ireland, allows householders to fill out a declaration stating who resides in their property. Whilst it is illegal to lie on the form, no checks are made before the names are added to electoral register.
In the past voters had to go to the ballot box to vote unless they had a provable reason for not attending. This meant anyone who wanted to vote multiple times would have to visit the same polling station multiple times with different names.
Today, as a result of changes made under the last Labour government, householders can list as many names as they want and request postal votes for all those names. The before an election they can return them without ever having proved any of these voters were real people.
In some families the head of the household votes on behalf of everyone. This led the Pendle MP Andy Stephenson to claim in the House of Commons that he had met women Asian women who did not know who they had cast their postal vote for as they had not seen it. Every political party in Pendle except Labour signed up to Code of Conduct to stamp out fraud.
Mr Stephenson claimed in the debate that in one case he had discovered 27 registered voters at the home of a Liberal Democrat candidate, and had witnessed Labour activists bringing in bundles of 50 postal votes at a time.
The government is considering changes to the way the ballot is conducted. Ideas under consideration are: individual registration (where voters have to register themselves), identification at ballot boxes and an end to postal votes on demand.
Across the country activists are complaining about intimidation from Labour activists of South Asian origin. One UKIP activist claims to have been stabbed in the face in a politically motivated attack, whilst another in Leicester was told he would be shot unless he the party within two weeks.