Electoral watchdog report condemns planning for Tower Hamlets local election count as ‘inadequate’

Luftur Rahman answering questions after winning the Mayoral vote. Pic Andy Goddard

Luftur Rahman answering questions after winning the Mayoral vote. Pic Andy Goddard

Planning by Tower Hamlets for the voting count in the recent local elections i=was ‘inadequate’ according to an Electoral Commission Review.

The review, published yesterday, examined the count for the Local and European Elections that only concluded five days after voting on May 22.

It concluded there was ‘inadequate resource management’, that the number of staff were ‘insufficient’ and the management of the count which began on the day after polling proved inadequate’.

Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, said the problems were down to a “failure in planning”.

“There were delays in getting counting staff and counting agents appointed by parties into the venue, then there were insufficient staff to be able to recover from that,” she said.

“Fundamentally that meant a local election count that had planned to take six hours took 23 and a half hours.”

She said the commission would be monitoring the council’s response to the review.

The returning officer must publish an overall plan for the management of the count in next year’s general election by the end of this year, the Commission said.

Responding to the report, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Luftar Rahman, said: “The report fairly addresses the delay in completing the May 2014 election counts, and provides a constructive and valuable assessment which can only be helpful. ‬”

Ahead of tomorrows delayed by-election for Blackwell and Cubitt Town wards the commission has recommended that all attendees understand the ‘standards and behavior expected from them at all times.’

The commission called for the police to manage the outside of the counting venue so that people can enter and leave freely.

The Mayor added: “I am reassured by the Returning Officer that he is taking all necessary steps to incorporate the recommendations of the report for future elections starting with the arrangements for the Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward by-election to be held on 3 July 2014.”‬

The poll is also being investigated by the Metropolitan Police which is examining claims of false documentation used by candidates, voter and electoral roll fraud and incidents of intimidation at polling stations.Two people have been arrested. See our earlier report here.

Earlier this month a petition calling for the mayoral election in Tower Hamlets to be held again was submitted to the High Court by the Red Flag Anti-Corruption Party.

The group accused Rahman’s party of electoral fraud, corruption and political smears. The Mayor has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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