Tower Hamlets local authority at high risk of ‘vote-rigging’

High risk of alleged electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets  Pic: James Cridland

High risk of alleged electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets Pic: James Cridland

Tower Hamlets is one of 16 local authorities at a greater risk of alleged ‘vote-rigging’ being reported, according to a report released today by the Electoral Commission.

In the report, Electoral Fraud in the UK, the Commission called for voters to be required to show photo identification at all polling stations across Great Britain to improve security, mirroring the system already operating in Northern Ireland.

They expect to implement the requirement for identification after the 2015 UK Parliamentary general elections in time to be used for the 2019 European and English local government elections.

The Commision also said police forces should guard specific polling stations at risk of fraud in the 2014 elections.

A Tower Hamlets spokesman said the council welcomes the recommendations made by the Commission. They added that many of the recommendations were based on “best practice that is already in place in the borough”.

The spokesman said: “Strong anti-fraud measures are in place to ensure the integrity of the election process both at polling stations and in relation to postal votes. All allegations of registrations irregularities will be fully and promptly investigated.”

Previously, allegations were made of electoral fraud in Tower Hamlets when people claiming to be from a local housing association were accused of canvassing for Mayor Lutfur Rahman in the run-up to the next elections.

The other local authorities at a higher risk of electoral fraud are: Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Burnley, Calderdale, Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Slough, Walsall, and Woking.

The Commission said that they do not believe that electoral fraud had been attempted more than a handful of times in any particular location.

The election watchdog said they would be researching the vulnerability of electoral fraud of some South Asian communities, “specifically those with roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh”.

They added: “It would be a mistake to suggest that electoral fraud only takes place within specific South Asian communities.”

Restricting access to postal voting was rejected by the Commission, fearing it would alienate innocent people from voting. However they urged police forces to ensure postal votes did not meet the hands of campaigners.

Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “In making our recommendations for change, we have been conscious of the need to strike a balance between making the system accessible, and making it secure. Getting this right will mean that voters and candidates can participate in elections, but corrupt campaigners cannot win votes through fraud.”

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