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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Council chief warns on vote fraud
Postal voting
Elections this month saw a major experiment so far in postal voting
Postal voting needs to be more tightly regulated to prevent fraud, says the leader of England's biggest local council.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, says that the existing electoral law was not specific enough in tackling postal vote fraud.

Allegations of postal vote fraud in recent elections meant that there were "lessons to be learned", he said.

The council leader has written to the prime minister about his concerns.

'Almost anything is legal'

"There is a huge gap between the law and the Electoral Commission's code of conduct for political parties, candidates and canvassers on the handling of postal voting applications and postal vote ballot papers," says the letter from Sir Albert.

"At present, in relation to the handling of postal ballot papers, the law is so general that almost anything is legal."

Sir Albert says it is currently difficult for the police to pursue concerns about whether voters were being unduly influenced by someone else.

"'On demand' postal voting is so difficult to control that I might go so far as suggesting that we should revert to the pre-2001 regulations if we cannot find a way of preserving the integrity of the process for the individual voter," said Sir Albert.

In the recent elections, there were all-postal voting pilots in four English regions - the East Midlands, the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. Electors in these regions all cast their vote by post.

The Electoral Commission is to evaluate these pilot schemes and will publish a report in the autumn

MPs call to axe postal vote
17 Jun 04  |  Humber
All-postal 'abuse' probe call
11 Jun 04  |  Politics
Post ballot fraud investigation
11 Jun 04  |  West Midlands

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