Andy Kelly welcomes Government review into electoral fraud

August 16, 2016 10:42 AM

Leader of Rochdale Liberal Democrats, Councillor Andy Kelly has welcomed Sir Eric Pickles' report into electoral fraud. Mr Pickles, in his role as the Government's Anti-Corruption Champion has issued a number of recommendations in a far reaching report into cheating at the ballot box. His report, presented to new Prime Minister Teresa May, was commissioned by David Cameron and comes as reports of electoral fraud are at an all-time high.

Councillor Kelly, the local Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, said: "This report into widespread cheating in elections is welcome. I would encourage the new Prime Minister to take on board very real concerns that could be seen to subvert democracy. I especially support the need for voters to produce personal identification when voting. This is something I have supported for years and would give the public more confidence in our voting system and thus elected representatives. I also fully support the call to time limit postal votes. Currently any application for a postal vote is permanent and is open to systematic, widespread abuse. Extending the prinicipal of a 'secret' postal vote is something desperately needed. Here in Rochdale, there have been many allegations of intimidation of postal voters and indeed postal staff."

It was in in 2011, when Rochdale hit the headlines for electoral malpractice. The council received a number of reports of large groups of people attempting to pressure people into handing over incomplete postal votes. The allegations involved 6 electoral wards and the police were forced to step in after residents reported up to 20 people at a time turning up to their house demanding they hand over their postal votes. In the same year, dozens of postal votes were rejected. Up to 10% of postal votes were rejected in the Milkstone and Deeplish and Central Rochdale Wards alone.

Councillor Kelly said: "Since the Labour Party introduced postal voting on demand, allegations and indeed convictions have gone through the roof. There needs to be a root and branch reform of voting as a whole. Just to restore faith into what I believe is a rotten system. Every election in this Borough is marred by allegations of personalisation, postal vote fraud and intimidation. If Eric Pickles' recommendations are accepted it will be a step forward for democracy, often called into question in this Borough. I now call for the Conservative and Labour Party Leaders in this Borough to publicly back my call."

Sir Eric made more than 50 recommendations in his review. This included forcing voters to present identification at polling stations and banning activists from handling postal ballot papers.