As polling day approaches, the general election has already been marred by accusations of electoral fraud.Police are said to be looking into 50 allegations of election ‘irregularities’ across the country amid fears that bogus names have been used to apply for postal votes.
The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that 28 allegations have been made in London and that they are investigating five of those cases, four of which are in Tower Hamlets. The other claims are being ‘assessed’.
Local authorities reported a surge in the number of applications for postal votes close to the 20 April deadline. This has prompted concerns that their authenticity could not be fully investigated in time, and false names may been added to the postal voting database. There have been reports that in Tower Hamlets over 5,000 new registrations were received just before the cut-off date and officials did not have time to check them all. Some houses in the area have as many as nine adults registered as living at the same address.
A London journalist was attacked whilst investigating the alleged voting fraud. Jerome Taylor of The Independent was punched and kicked by a group of youths in Bethnal Green and Bow on Monday whilst in the area researching the claims.
As Thursday’s election looks set to be the closest in two decades there are concerns that electoral fraud, particularly in marginal seats, could have a crucial effect on the result. One Bethnal Green resident, Ellie Rose, said:
‘I am appalled my vote will probably be useless due to apparent postal vote fraud.’
The Bethnal Green seat was famously won by George Galloway of The Respect Party in 2005 from sitting Labour MP Oona King. Mr Galloway will be fighting in the neighbouring Poplar and Limehouse constituency this time round.