Baz Ahmed, the Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) officer for Labour in the port city of Plymouth, Devon, has been reported to police for what was alleged to be “clear voter fraud”.
Ahmed, of the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Labour Party, had shared pictures of unsealed ballot papers marked for Labour candidate Luke Pollard, on Twitter.
“@PlymouthLabour volunteers working hard to reelect @LukePollard just received these, more votes for @UKLabour and @PlymouthLabour,” he boasted in one tweet showing two postal votes marked with crosses which the Guido Fawkes political blog described as “identical”.
“I have just received this, votes in the box for @UKLabour @LukePollard #PlymouthsuttonandDevonport,” Ahmed had bragged in another tweet, which showed a picture of a ballot paper ticked rather than crossed for Pollard — technically incorrect, but likely to be accepted as valid — complete with further correspondence doxing the voter’s personal details.
In response to Ahmed’s tweets, Guido Fawkes highlighted the following Electoral Commission rules, suggesting Ahmed had “committed multiple offences under [the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act]”:
“You should not touch or handle anyone else’s ballot paper.”
“It is absolutely clear that anyone acting on behalf of a party or campaign should not solicit the collection of any ballot paper.”
“If you are asked to take the completed ballot paper, you should ensure that the voter has sealed it first and then post it or take it to a polling station or office of the Returning Officer immediately, without interfering in any way with the package.”
“If you are with a voter when they complete their ballot paper, remember they should complete it in secret. Equally, you should ensure that the voter seals the envelopes personally and immediately.”
“I have long been concerned about the unpleasant practices of Plymouth Labour,” noted Tory veterans minister Johnny Mercer, who represented a neighbouring Plymouth constituency prior to Parliament’s dissolution for the general election.
“This election they are being totally exposed. This is clear voter fraud, and I will be informing the police.”
I have long been concerned about the unpleasant practices of Plymouth Labour. This election they are being totally exposed. This is clear voter fraud, and I will be informing the police. https://t.co/EFYG00cWol
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) November 27, 2019
Luke Pollard, for his part, claimed he was unaware of Ahmed’s activities, and told Guido Fawkes that “If that was happening it would be illegal.”
However, Labour now claims that Ahmed was not sharing pictures of unsealed ballots which party activists had received, and was only sharing pictures which he had been sent by voters themselves.
“Postal ballot papers are treated differently in electoral law, compared to polling station ballot papers,” the watchdog told PlymouthLive.
“A postal voter may take a picture of their own postal ballot paper and publicise it (including via social media).
“However, while the postal voter themselves may publicise the information, if someone else persuades or induces them to make this information available, they would be committing an offence,” they conceded.
“I’m an activist and it is my job to help encourage people to vote for Labour,” Ahmed insisted.
WATCH | Brilliant Brexit Party video on convicted vote-rigger and Labour activist Tariq Mahmood. Great to see they're following through and fighting against what happened in Peterborough. These guys don't mess around! 👏
Read more at https://t.co/IoxMDPeecc
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) June 24, 2019