City Gets Tough on Voting Fraud; ELECTIONS: Signature-Checking Machine and Police Presence among Plans

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Byline: By Fiona Scott POLITICAL EDITOR

A CRACKDOWN on fraudulent voting in next month's Coventry City Council elections is being planned.

Police and representatives of the Electoral Commission have spoken to candidates and agents.

Elections officers at the council will have a hotline on which to report suspicious voters on election day, May 3.

And every single postal vote in Coventry will be checked for authenticity before being added to the count.

The authorities are keen to avoid any scandals, after several alleged vote-riggings in Coventry and elsewhere.

Last year hundreds of postal votes in Coventry were invalid because people didn't fill in paperwork properly.

And a man has been charged with turning up twice to vote in Foleshill ward last May in the names of two other people. His case is yet to be heard. Chris Hinde, the council's returning officer, said this year the council had bought a special scanner to check signatures on postal votes.

Postal voters now have to give a copy of their signature when they apply. When they return their vote, they sign the outside of the envelope and it's checked against a computer database.

Mr Hinde said: "The recommendation of the Electoral Commission is that we check 20 per cent of postal votes, but we have taken the decision, because of previous issues, that we will do 100 per cent. …