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Postal voting on demand has undermined our democracy

PUBLISHED: 15:23 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:44 05 October 2010

Dear Editor, INTRODUCING postal voting on demand has undermined our democracy and lead to politics based not on issues, but ethnicity. It followed the outcry after the 1997 General Election when Labour was returned with the largest majority since 1945, but the turnout was the lowest since 1945. But the whole concept of postal voting on demand is based on a demonstrably false premise

Dear Editor,

INTRODUCING postal voting on demand has undermined our democracy and lead to politics that is based not on issues but ethnicity (East London Advertiser, October 23).

It followed the outcry after the 1997 General Election when Labour was returned with the largest majority since 1945, but the turnout was the lowest since 1945. The 2001 general election was even worse.

One of the measures introduced by the Representation of the People Act in 2000 was postal voting on demand. This, it was hoped, would address the problem of low turnout.

The 2004 local elections proved to be a turning point in the attitude of the public towards postal voting.

Before the elections, there were concerns about logistical problems as well as the potential for fraud. The concerns proved well founded following local elections in Birmingham in 2005, when six Labour Party members were found guilty of tampering with thousands of postal votes in two wards.

The judge in the case remarked that the evidence pointed to a level of organized fraud "that would disgrace a banana republic, childishly simple to commit and very difficult to detect."

The outcome of the local elections at Tower Hamlets in East London two years ago came under question in two wards.

The Respect Party brought a case to the Electoral Court, but due to lack of funds had to end it before a judgment was reached.

The judge hearing the case took an entirely different view, that there was "clear, prima facie evidence of fraud." He had misgivings in allowing the challenge to be withdrawn on the grounds of cost.

The whole concept of postal voting on demand is based on a demonstrably false premise.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust concluded that the benefits of postal voting have been exaggerated and have led to an increase in electoral fraud.

Terry McGrenera

Devons Road, Bromley-by-Bow


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