Tower Hamlets council vigilant to dangers of electoral fraud

The council will check that every postal ballot has been completed by the same person who originally registered.

THE EAST London Advertiser has this week been shown the steps being taken by Tower Hamlets council as they attempt to ensure the mayoral election on October 21 is free of voter fraud.

On October 11, Kevan Collins, the council’s chief executive and the electoral returning officer, demonstrated how council officials will check the signature on every voting statement which accompanies postal ballots as the borough decides the identity of its first executive mayor.

The council, who will spend around �280,000 on the election, passed on 10 allegations of postal vote irregularities to the Metropolitan Police following the general and local elections in May, though no further action was taken.

“We recognise that postal voting is an area where we need to be really vigorous and vigilant to protect our votes because having a secure and safe election is our first priority,” said Mr Collins.

“We will not hesitate to involve the police to prosecute people who tamper with this election.”

Registration for a postal vote closed on October 6 and 24,788 postal voting packs have been sent out, containing the ballot paper and postal voting statement on which electors write their name, signature and date of birth.

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Once returned to the Town Hall in Clove Crescent, the information on the voting statement, which is detached from the ballot paper, is scanned onto a computer system and checked against the information given when the elector registered for a postal vote.

Any discrepancies show up on a computer screen and Mr Collins or three other council officials must then decide whether to accept the ballot or not.

Accepted ballots are kept securely to be added to the rest of the count.

“It’s a judgement call all the time for us,” said Mr Collins.

“Under the national guidance you don’t need to screen every postal vote, you only need to check 20%, but we screen every single application that comes in.”

Since the allegations of voting fraud in May, the council’s electoral services team has also checked any properties where eight or more people are registered to vote.