MPs call for outside observers to monitor Tower Hamlets postal votes

Outside observers should be brought in to examine the way postal votes are conducted in Tower Hamlets, some MPs are demanding.

The call was made on Friday after continued allegations of voting fraud in the elections for London Mayor and Assembly earlier this month.

A formal request was sent to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe asking for an examination for evidence of abuse.

Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick told the Advertiser: “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to deal with electoral fraud—any suggestion is worth consideration.”

It follows repeated claims of fraudulent postal votes, including a dead man and a prisoner in jail.

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond wrote to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Vienna, appealing for action.

But Tower Hamlets council insists its scrutiny is robust. It removed 800 names from the voters’ register before the May 3 elections. Most had moved away in what the authority described as “a fast-shifting population with short-stays” including students.

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One postal vote had been sent to a sick man who subsequently died, while the prisoner on the register was on remand before his trial and was legally entitled to apply to vote, the Town Hall pointed out.

The Electoral Commission’s administration director, Andrew Scallan, said: “We carried out a review of registration processes, including door-to-door checks at properties with high numbers of registered voters. We have been calling on the government to tighten electoral registration since 2003.”

The MPs say government plans for stricter checks on postal votes won’t take effect until 2014.