Bradford and Kirklees Councils welcome plan to tackle election fraud (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford and Kirklees Councils welcome plan to tackle election fraud
A watchdog’s plan to stamp out electoral fraud has been backed by Bradford Council, which says it has already tackled the problem.
The Electoral Commission identified Bradford as one of 16 vote-rigging hot-spots across the UK.
And it called on Bradford Council’s chief executive Tony Reeves, who oversees elections in his role as returning officer, to take action within weeks. Its recommendations include asking voters to show proof of identity at polling stations and making sure campaigners do not handle postal votes or voting application forms.
The commission has told the authorities in at-risk areas to put measures in place to combat fraud before the next set of local and European elections in May.
And it is investigating whether some South Asian communities are vulnerable to electoral fraud – though it warned it would be wrong to assume the problem was confined to these communities.
Mr Reeves said while the authority backed the idea of ID checks at polling stations, this would need a change in the law.
And he said the other anti-fraud measures were already in place in Bradford, such as various tighter checks on postal voting.
He said: “Although Bradford is one of 16 areas identified of having a ‘greater risk’ of electoral fraud allegations in the Electoral Commission's report, the steps they recommend ahead of the May, 2014, elections have already been in place for some years in Bradford.”
Mr Reeves also said proven cases of electoral fraud in Bradford were “extremely rare” and any allegations were always dealt with robustly and reported to the police.
Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) said he agreed voters should show ID at polling stations.
In the so-called ‘Bradford Fraud’ of 2005, postal votes were rigged in the run-up to the 2005 General Election in a failed attempt to fix the result.
Conservative supporter Alyas Khan was later jailed for conspiracy to defraud. Four other men were also jailed, but were later cleared on appeal.
Kirklees and Calderdale have also been identified as fraud hot-spots.
Adrian Lythgo, the returning officer at Kirklees, welcomed the latest recommendations.
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