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Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Police inquiry into postal votes
Postal vote
Postal voting rules were relaxed for the general election
Allegations of irregularities in the use of postal votes in Bradford during the general election are being investigated by police.

The winning Labour candidate in Bradford North, Terry Rooney, told the BBC that some people were visited at home and threatened into signing the forms ordered in their names.

There have also been reports that some people arrived at polling stations to find that their vote had already been used by post, the city's Lord Mayor, Ghazanfer Khaliq, said.


Some were told that their postal vote had been used, so they wouldn't be able to vote

Bradford's Lord Mayor
Ghazanfer Khaliq
Mr Rooney said he believed abuses of the system meant it was impossible to say the poll was free and fair.

According to BBC Radio 4's Today programme the irregularities are understood to be concentrated in an area of the city heavily populated by first-generation immigrants from the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir.

West Yorkshire Police have launched an investigation into the allegations.

There is no suggestion that any of the candidates in Bradford's two parliamentary constituencies were involved in any irregularities.

Mr Rooney told the programme: "There are certainly reports of malpractice and abuse. I can't believe that the final vote was actually free and fair.

'Threatened'

"We had people turning up at the polling station to vote to find that a postal vote had been ordered in their name that they knew nothing about.

"We had people who had been visited at home, especially elderly women living on their own, being threatened and intimidated to sign these forms."

Mr Khaliq said: "Some people said they received the ballot papers themselves for a postal vote without applying for them and some were told that their postal vote had been used, so they wouldn't be able to vote."

The rules for postal voting were relaxed for last week's election to make it easier for voters absent from home to take part in the poll.

But critics say the changes also removed safeguards against fraud.

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See also:

04 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Fraud fear for postal voting
06 Jun 01 | Talking Point
Voting by post - open to abuse?
29 May 01 | Voting System
Postal and proxy voting
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