Bradford on voting fraud ‘danger list’

The Electoral Commission is calling for ‘sustained action now’ in a bid to crack down on voting fraud

The Electoral Commission is calling for ‘sustained action now’ in a bid to crack down on voting fraud

First published in News

Bradford will today be placed on a voting fraud ‘danger list’ – and election officers ordered to take action within weeks.

The Electoral Commission names the city – along with Calderdale and Kirklees – among 16 areas where there is a “greater risk” of allegations of polling scams.

The watchdog has urged ministers to tighten-up security everywhere by requiring voters to show identification before they enter the polling booth.

However, that change would not come in until 2019, even if the recommendation is accepted by the Government.

Therefore, the Commission has also called for “sustained action now” in hotspots including Bradford, ahead of local elections in May.

It said the crackdown should include: l Studying each area’s history of electoral fraud and applying tougher tests on applications to register to vote, where necessary.

l Police forces targeting individual polling stations where fraud is more likely to take place.

l Requiring candidates, political parties and other campaigners to publicly make clear their commitment to following a code of conduct.

Jenny Watson, the Commission’s chairwoman, said: “Voters are the victims and sustained action is needed now to prevent fraud from taking place.

“Although the introduction of individual electoral registration this year will tighten up the registration system, more can – and should – be done.

“As we look to the next General Election, there needs to be a change in campaigner behaviour in order to help rebuild trust in the system.”

Today’s report does not describe any particular examples of voting fraud in Bradford or any of the other areas on the Commission’s danger list.

However, it says they all tend to be densely populated, with a “transient population” and a large number of multiple occupancy houses.

The Commission also notes they are also “home to communities with a diverse range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds”.

The watchdog said it was carrying out work to investigate whether there are particular problems in communities with “roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh”.

However, it concluded: “It would be a mistake to suggest that electoral fraud only takes place within specific South Asian communities.”

The Commission rejected calls to restrict access to postal voting – at the centre of many allegations – arguing it would prevent many innocent people from casting their vote.

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