Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fraud Fears Rise as; London Poll Rig Alert after 4,000% Rise in One Borough ELECTION 2005 ONE WEEK AFTER INVESTIGATION REVEALS HOW EASY IT IS TO CHEAT, SURVEY FUELS SUSPICION OF FIXING IN CAPITAL'S CONSTITUENCIES

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fraud Fears Rise as; London Poll Rig Alert after 4,000% Rise in One Borough ELECTION 2005 ONE WEEK AFTER INVESTIGATION REVEALS HOW EASY IT IS TO CHEAT, SURVEY FUELS SUSPICION OF FIXING IN CAPITAL'S CONSTITUENCIES

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS LYDALL;SAM LYON

ELECTION SPECIAL Make sure of your copy of the Evening Standard's Election Results Special early on Friday morning - full seat-by-seat results guide plus expert analysis

FEARS of electoral vote fraud escalated today after an astonishing leap in the number of Londoners apparently voting by post.

A record one in five London electors have applied for postal votes, according to an Evening Standard survey.

The number is three times bigger than in 2001 - and includes an incredible 40-times increase in one of the capital's inner-city boroughs.

The findings, which will fuel suspicions of organised fraud, come a week after an Evening Standard investigation disclosed how easy it is to obtain other people's ballot papers by cheating.

Half a million Londoners are due to cast a postal vote, according to the survey of the 33 boroughs.

Hackney tops the league table of increases, with the council having issued 37,285 postal votes for its two constituencies - up 4,000 per cent. The borough has seen demand soar as a result of its 2002 council elections being conducted exclusively by postal voting in a government pilot scheme.

Barnet is second highest with 32,555. The average number of postal votes per borough is 16,862.

The figures emerged a week after the Standard revealed how the election is open to vote-rigging. A number of postal ballots for constituencies across London were obtained by a reporter without any apparent checks for fraud.

Last year's local elections in Birmingham led to the sacking of six Labour councillors for postal fraud. The elections commissioner said the system "would disgrace a banana republic".

Hackney South and Shoreditch, a safe Labour seat, will have the highest number of postal votes in the capital, with 19,456 issued.

Hackney North is second with 17,829. Third is the Lib-Dem marginal seat of Richmond Park.

Elsewhere, 6,600 postal votes have been issued in Bethnal Green and Bow, which is being contested by Oona King and George Galloway. There were about 3,500 postal votes issued in Brent East, where Lib-Dem Sarah Teather beat Labour in a 2003 byelection. …

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