Thursday, April 21, 2005
Massive fraud anticipated in Britain's May 5 election;
Court will not act
The primary vehicle is the "postal vote," which Americans would call absentee balloting. Postal vote requirements are laxer than their U.S. equivalent. For instance, a head of household may receive forms for the entire household, and the forms may be sent to an intermediary address. You may also request that an absentee ballot be sent for all future elections, so that you do not need to request a ballot for each election.1
In light of six cases of election fraud by members of the Labor Party that have recently been exposed in court, John Hemming, running for Parliament as a Liberal Democrat, asked the court to conduct a prior review of the upcoming election to ensure its integrity.
According to the (London) Times,
Mr Hemming had asked for permission to seek a declaration that voting regulations were "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that elections must ensure "the free expression of the will of the people".
He argued that the election was "virtually certain" to result in "very serious fraud" because of insufficient safeguards for postal voting.
But Mr Justice Collins said that the proceedings were "entirely premature". He said it was not enough to make general allegations about fear of fraud.
If Mr Hemming fails to be elected as an MP and had reason to believe fraud had been involved, there were "remedies", the judge said.
However, the judge said that it was accepted there were insufficient safeguards for postal voting and hoped that talks taking place today could provide them.
Judge Collins got that part right. Richard Mawrey, the judge who heard six of the recently proven cases of fraud, said the fraud "would disgrace a banana republic."
Mr Justice Collins said there would be "tremendous pressure" on whichever party won the election to take action to tighten the regulations,2 but that it was a matter for politicians and not the courts.
The judge ordered Mr Hemming to pay £4,000 towards the Government’s costs in defending the case.
Just how bad can it be?
Jerry Hayes, Mr Hemming’s lawyer, said requests for postal voting were up by 500 per cent up in marginal seats and that election fraud would continue if action was not taken.
There are numerous examples of Labour asking people who want a postal vote to send their applications back to Labour vote centres, campaign headquarters, or private addresses.
But now it’s getting worse. Labour is asking which party you are supporting at the same time as asking if you want a postal vote. A Labour leaflet in Hackney, east London, has a form where you are asked to tick a box to say you would like a postal vote.
The next box is to register as a Labour supporter, and the next two boxes ask which party you most closely identify with and which you are going to vote for on 5 May.
The form is then supposed to be returned to 88 Buckingham Road, London N1. According to Hackney council’s website this is a property owned by James Cannon. He is a Labour councillor and the agent for Labour’s Meg Hillier, who is standing for the seat of Hackney South.
Ian Rathbone, a Labour spokesperson for the Meg Hillier campaign, told Socialist Worker, “There is nothing out of the ordinary here. We would of course hand on to the returning officer any application where people said they were voting for another party.
Does that ring a bell?
The Respect candidate in Bethnal Green & Bow, George Galloway, has announced the party will be taking action under the Human Rights Act to ensure “free and fair elections”.[back]
This follows the distribution of postcards by the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison organisation asking voters to fill in a postal vote application form. This form contains a box where applicants can fill in an address other than the one they are registered at.
This postcard is to be returned to the official sounding Postal Votes Centre, Freepost NAT 14962, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 3BP. This is a Labour Party office.
After the Birmingham case — where Labour councillors were caught sitting round a table in a warehouse with piles of postal votes waiting to be filled in — Galloway has accused Labour of flouting Electoral Commission guidelines. He said, “Ballot papers have a habit of sticking to New Labour’s fingers.”
At the very least Respect is demanding postal votes be counted separately to investigate their impact on the results.