Monday, April 30, 2007

Official obnubilation or obloquy...

Update: 02/05/07 ..."More than 20,000 people have dropped off the register for postal votes in the wards in Birmingham at the centre of fraud allegations three years ago." [BBC Link]
Figures seen by the BBC suggest the problem was worse than first thought.

In four other wards, where there were allegations of fraud at the time but no formal enquiry, more than half the postal voters have disappeared from the list.

Election commissioner Richard Mawrey QC upheld allegations of postal fraud relating to six seats won by Labour in the ballot of 10 June 2004.

Judge Mawrey said evidence of "massive, systematic and organised fraud" in the campaign had made a mockery of the election and ruled that not less than 1,500 votes had been cast fraudulently in the city.

obloquy n. - abuse; disgrace. oblocutor, n. one who denies or disputes
obnubilation n. - beclouding or obscuring; obfuscation

X marks the spot...Vote rigging? It seems that this year extra checks have been introduced following a series of allegations of vote rigging, ...allegations...I'm sure there has been some sort of fraud ever since postal voting was introduced in 2001. In 2002 there were problems with irregularities in the electoral roll [BBC Link] and who could forget the famous quote from a judge investigating the vote rigging in Birmingham's 2004 local elections who said he had heard evidence of fraud that...
"would disgrace a banana republic".
However now there has been a large increase in applications for postal votes and there is concern that the computers that will do the counting (and checking of signatures) may not be able to cope, if not then manual checking will be the fallback...why not just have manual checking in the first place? may take time but it will safer and less open to rigging. All that said I was somewhat horrified to read of what, in my opinion, is downright criminal corruption; the following excerpts are shocking: full article from the Times Online HERE.

Hyde (Graham Hyde, a Labour councillor, working as a parliamentary aide to the local MP George Mudie) warned: "Put the postal vote form out of sight...Don’t get caught with any on you. We are not supposed to collect them."

"He appeared well aware of the ramifications of what he was suggesting. One of the students conspiratorially told the group he believed that what they were doing was “illegal”. Hyde responded: “Yes it is. But we’ve done 25% already, so...”

"Last year Labour’s activities in the ward were the subject of complaints from rival candidates. One said: “Local Labour voters were going door to door, pressuring people to fill in their votes and then delivering sacks up to the polling station."

"At the count, the ballot boxes were opened first and the Liberal Democrats had a commanding lead. Then the postal votes were opened and they were almost all Labour. everyone present had suspicions that something was afoot."
"Complaints about the activities of the Labour teams canvassing door-to-door were made to the police, who wrote a strongly worded letter to all the parties warning them to abide by the code of conduct.
Despite repeated warnings, the government failed to introduce safeguards to make the system secure. Political parties rushed to persuade hundreds of thousands of people to sign up for postal votes and experts now fear fraud is endemic.
The government has repeatedly refused to tighten up the system... In the forthcoming election, postal voters are simply asked to provide a signature and date of birth, although fears are also mounting that new electronic verification machines will be unable to cope."
“Postal voting on demand is inherently unsatisfactory. The whole system is open to abuse. Secret ballots were introduced in 1872 to stop exactly this sort of problem and we now seem to be going back to the 19th century.”
This last by Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, an academic expert on elections. He's so right!


Gavin Corder said...

There is an irony in the fact that this postal vote scandal is in Leeds, my Evil One is going there to uni in the autumn with a bit of luck and a following wind.

My sister (necky mare) who only got wind of the electioneering going on in this corner of Berkshire, asked last night whether we had decided yet which of us would win the seat!

I can assure you I disabused her instantly, with cries of "such things would be gerrymandering and deceitful"

Then I told her our boy was standing too...

What a hoot!

Span Ows said...

Well i'm hoping for a post about all this family take-over in Berkshire and diminishing the people's right to a real choice!

(huff puff)...

...what a hoot indeed! I wish the evil one luck but tell her if she comes back with a t'nerthen accent you'll send her packing!...unless you like that sort of thing.

Sarnia said...

Ban postal votes.

Span Ows said...

...short but sweet and I agree! Sarnia, it was so obvious that it would produce problems...I fear for this computer counting nonsense too! Get out and vote...say no to apathy! :-)