Fighting electoral fraud in the UK

Lord Ashcroft has announced:

With the General Election exactly a week away, I am delighted to report on a new initiative to tackle .

The “Don’t Stand for Electoral Fraud” project from Crimestoppers, the crime-fighting charity, is perfectly timed. It will see a four-pronged attempt to tackle those who intimidate voters, bribe voters, steal postal votes and vote for someone else.

The move follows a partnership between Crimestoppers, the charity that I founded 27 years ago, and the Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog and regulator of party and election finance.

I am delighted that the Electoral Commission has embraced this project and I hope it will mark the beginning of a long and happy association between Crimestoppers and the elections watchdog.

As with all Crimestoppers’ work, we are urging the public to be our “eyes and ears” and to report any evidence or suspicions that they may have of criminal activity in this field – by using our on-line form or our 0800 555 111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 555 111end_of_the_skype_highlighting number to highlight their concerns anonymously.

Depending on the nature of the alleged offence or malpractice, it will then be up to the police and/or the relevant Electoral Registration Officer/Returning Officer to pursue further inquiries aimed at preventing the fraud and catching the offenders.

The key message of the new initiative is: “One person, one vote – that’s how democracy works. We each get one ballot and one vote. This is our right and it is our right to vote freely for whoever we want, without anyone doing anything to stop us.”

A very worthy electorate. It is wrong to pressure someone to vote a particular way. It is also wrong to pressure someone entitled to vote, not to vote. Likewise it is wrong to vote more than once, as that is effectively stealing a vote from someone else.

You might think there is no problem to be solved but:

Early last year a report entitled “Electoral fraud in the UK”, presented by Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, concluded simply: “Electoral fraud is a serious issue.”

As recently as last week, a London mayor who “cynically perverted” the religious feeling of his Muslim community and “silenced his critics with accusations of racism and Islamophobia” was removed from office after a bitter legal battle.

The disgraced Lutfur Rahman repeatedly played the “race card” in his bid to seize the mayoralty of Tower Hamlets and later cling to power, Richard Mawrey, the Election Commissioner, ruled.

It was ordered that last year’s mayoral election, which was riddled with corruption, be run again and Rahman – who was re-elected to the position after forming his own party, Tower Hamlets First – was barred from standing.

The BBC reports:

The Election Commissioner upheld a number of the allegations, including:

  • Voting fraud: ballots were double-cast or cast from false addresses

  • False statements made against Mr Rahman’s rival Mr Biggs

  • Bribery: large amounts of money were given to organisations who were “totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility”

  • Treating: providing free food and drink to encourage people to vote for Mr Rahman

  • Spiritual influence: voters were told that it was their duty as Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman. Mr Mawrey cited a letter signed by 101 Imams in Bengali stating it was people’s “religious duty” to vote.

So double voting, bribery and treating.

You’d think this would see him condemned universally, the UK’s largest trade union is backing him fully!!

The Guardian reports:

The leader of Britain’s biggest trade union has expressed his support for the former mayor of Tower Hamlets, who was removed from office after being found guilty of electoral fraud.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, Labour’s biggest donor, gave his backing on Thursday to Lutfur Rahman, who was dismissed following a court ruling last week. …

Andrew Murray, the union’s chief of staff, told the rally in Stepney Green, east London: “I am not speaking in a personal capacity, I am speaking on behalf of the union … and I am sending a message of support from our general secretary, Len McCluskey. Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman.”

He called the judgment “an undemocratic assault on the people of Tower Hamlets” which was both “racist” and “Islamaphobic”.

Exposing electoral fraud is racist and Islamaphobic!

And this is not some mad loner, but the official view of the UK’s largest union.

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