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Tower Hamlets polling stations open 7am with moves to stop vote-rigging

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 May 2014

Your polling station, Picture: Chris Ison/PA Archive

Your polling station, Picture: Chris Ison/PA Archive

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Tough security checks are being carried out by Tower Hamlets council in London's East End to tackle the threat of ballot-rigging in today's local council and mayor elections.

Your vote, Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA ArchiveYour vote, Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Postal ballot papers have been scanned to make sure signatures and dates of birth match the registered details on the original application forms—and rejected if they don’t match up.

“We are determined to tackle fraud robustly,” Tower Hamlets Returning Officer John Williams said. “We have been working with the police and the Electoral Commission to maintain the integrity of the elections with rigorous measures in place to prevent fraud.”

He added: “Everyone should be able to use their democratic vote free from any fear of inappropriate influence or intimidation.”

It follows vote-rigging scandals going back to 2006 and 2010 when hundreds of bogus registrations were uncovered, which led to an inquiry two years ago into Tower Hamlets Electoral Roll.

Scanner used to spot irregularities and stop postal vote rigging. Photo: David MirzoeffScanner used to spot irregularities and stop postal vote rigging. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Police called at 88 suspect addresses in one investigation alone, following the 2010 election for Tower Hamlets mayor. The Town Hall had removed 141 suspect names from the register—but a flood of 5,000 new applications arrived just before the election deadline, with little time to check them out.

Vote-rigging first surfaced at the 2006 General Election when George Galloway narrowly snatched Bethnal Green & Bow from Labour. His Respect Party, despite winning, complained of dodgy voters to police.

More vote-rigging was uncovered four years later during the 2010 council elections in May and the Mayor election the following October.

Town Hall estimates put postal votes for today’s elections at 30,000.

Counting your vote. Picture: Scott Heppell/PA ArchiveCounting your vote. Picture: Scott Heppell/PA Archive

But there is also concern for security for voters going in person to polling stations.

Police measures include preventing large groups congregating which can intimidate some voters, while polling station officials are to challenge voters they have suspicions about. The number of party campaigners allowed at polling stations is also being limited.

Those voting by post were urged to make sure they did not let others handle their postal vote pack and to complete their ballot papers and Postal Vote statements themselves before sending them in the secure envelope provided directly to the Town Hall—or hand the sealed envelope in to any polling station today.

A council spokesman warned: “It is against the law to allow someone else to cast your vote for you.”

Three elections are taking place today, each with its own voting system.

The election for mayor decides who controls the Town Hall with its £1.2 billion annual budget for the next four years. There are 10 candidates in the ring, with voters having a choice of first and second preference.

The council election is for 45 seats on the local authority, reduced from 51 after recent ward boundary mergers, with 204 hopefuls contesting. The borough is divided into 20 new wards to elect one, two or three councillors each.

A third poll is the European Parliamentary election with just one choice, putting a cross next to the political party of choice, to elect eight MEPs for London for the next five years.

Anyone who hasn’t received a poll card or may have mislaid it can still vote if they are registered. Voters can also check where their polling station is by calling the Electoral Services helpline on 020-7364 0872, or going online.

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There are 75 polling stations in schools, community halls, church halls and even Portacabins in car-parks in the 20 Tower Hamlets wards, which open at 7am and close tonight at 10pm. Locations, ward-by-ward, are:

BETHNAL GREEN

• St James-the-Less Church, St James’s Ave, E2 9JD

• Bonner Primary, Stainsbury St, E2 0NF

• The Tramshed, Digby St, E2 0LS

• John Scurr Primary, Cephas St, E1 4AX

• Harpley Support Centre, Tollet St, E1 4EE

BLACKWALL & CUBITT TOWN

• Portakabin by East India DLR, Blackwall Way, E14 9PS

• Portakabin in Prestons Rd, E14 9LZ (near Secure Self Storage)

• The Gallery, Jack Dash House, 2 Lawn House Close, E14 9YQ

• Cubitt Town Infants, Manchester Rd, E14 3NE

BOW EAST

• Francis Lee Centre, Clare House, Hawthorn Ave, E3 5PY

• Stour Space Exhibition Area, 7 Roach Rd, E3 2PA

• Eastside Youth Centre, 6 Parnell Rd, E3 2RB

• Tredegar Centre, 333 Morville St, E3 2DZ

• Our Lady and St Catherine of Siena Parish Hall, 179A Bow Rd, E3 2SH

BOW WEST

• Chisenhale Primary, Vivian Rd, E3 5QY

• Olga Primary, Lanfranc Rd, E3 5DN

• Gateway Housing Assoc Meeting Room, 409-13 Mile End Rd, E3 4PB

• Malmesbury Primary, Coborn St, E3 2AB

BROMLEY NORTH

• Wellington Primary, Archibald St, E3 4NE

• Bow Cross Centre, Rainhill Way, E3 3EY

• Old Palace Primary, St Leonard’s St, E3 3BT

BROMLEY SOUTH

• Clara Grant Primary, Knapp Rd, E3 4BU

• Lighthouse Baptist Church, Brock Place, E3 3QX

• Marner Centre, Devas St, E3 3LL

CANARY WHARF

• Car Park of West India Dock Impounding Station, Marsh Wall, E14 8JT

• Seven Mills Primary, Malabar St, E14 8LY

• Tiller Leisure Centre, Tiller Rd, E14 8PX

ISLAND GARDENS (Isle of Dogs south)

• St Edmund’s RC Primary, 297 Westferry Rd, E14 3RS

• Harbinger Primary, Cahir St, E14 3QP

• St Luke’s CE Primary, Saunders Ness Rd, E14 3EB

LANSBURY (Poplar north)

• St Saviour’s CE Primary, Chrisp St, E14 6BB

• Bygrove Primary, Bygrove St, E14 6DN

• Teviot Community Hall, 156 St Leonard’s Rd, E14 0QZ

• Culloden Primary, Dee St, E14 0PT

• Teviot Neighbourhood Centre, Wyviss St, E14 6QD

LIMEHOUSE

• Portakabin in Northey St, E14 8BT

• Cyril Jackson Primary, Limehouse Causeway, E14 8AQ

MILE END

• Bonner Primary, English St, E3 4TA

• St Paul with St Luke CE Primary, Leopold St, E3 4LA

• Stepney Greencoat CE Primary, Norbiton Rd, E14 7TF

• Stebon Primary, Burdett Estate, Masjid Lane, E14 7AD

• Hind Grove Centre, 18 Stainsbury Rd, E14 6JP

POPLAR

• Holy Family RC Primary, Wades Place, E14 0DE

• Woolmore Primary, Woolmore St, E14 0EW

SHADWELL

• Bigland Green Primary, Bigland St, E1 2ND

• Blue Gate Fields Junior, King David Lane, E1 0EH

• Ogilvie Hall, Ogilvie House, Stepney Causeway, E1 0JP

SPITALFIELDS

• Christ Church CE Primary, 47a Brick Lane, E1 6PU

• Canon Barnett Primary, Gunthorpe St, E1 7RQ

• St Anne’s RC Primary, Underwood Rd, E1 5AW

• Whitechapel Sports Centre, Durward St, E1 5BA

ST DUNSTAN’S (Stepney)

• Latimer Congregational Church, Ernest St, E1 4LS

• Alice Model Nursery, 14 Beaumont Grove, E1 4NQ

• Ben Jonson Primary, Harford St, E1 4PZ

• Cayley Primary, Aston St, E14 7NG

ST KATHARINE’S & WAPPING

• St Paul’s Institute, 302 The Highway, E1W 3DH

• St Peter’s London Docks Primary, Garnet St, E1W 3QT

• John Orwell Centre, Tench St, E1W 2QD

• Hermitage Primary, Vaughan Way, E1W 2PT

ST PETER’S (Bethnal Grn)

• Pritchards Road Day Centre, Marion Place, Pritchards Rd, E2 9AX

• Lawdale Junior, Mansford St, E2 6LS

• Former School Site in St Jude’s Rd, E2 9RW

• Hague Primary, Wilmot St, E2 0BP

• Mowlem Primary, Bishops Way, E2 9HE

STEPNEY GREEN

• Smithy Street Primary, Smithy St, E1 3BW

• Exmouth Hall, Brayford Square, E1 0PW

• Redcoat Centre, 260 Stepney Way, E1 3DW

WEAVERS (Shoreditch)

• Virginia Primary, Hocker St, E2 7NQ

• Columbia Primary, Columbia Rd, E2 7RG

• St Matthias Primary, Bacon Street, E2 6DY

WHITECHAPEL

• Kobi Nazrul Primary, Settles St, E1 1JP

• John Smith Children’s Centre, 90 Stepney Way, E1 2EN

• Harry Gosling Primary, Henriques St, E1 1NB

• Shapla Primary, Wellclose Sq, E1 8HY

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