Labour MP Makes Vote Fraud Claim; COUNCIL DISMISS ACCUSATION

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), January 13, 2010 | Go to article overview

Labour MP Makes Vote Fraud Claim; COUNCIL DISMISS ACCUSATION


Byline: ALASTAIR CRAIG

NORTH East Minister Nick Brown claims the General Election could be open to fraud because many councils will ho ld counts the day after polling.

The Newcastle MP even said the Liberal Democrat-run city council could not be trusted with ballot boxes overnight.

But furious council chiefs hit back Sthe "vile" accusations, and said votes would be kept under lock and key.

The row comes as Commons Speaker John Bercow called for counts to take place on the night of the General Election to preserve the drama and avoid delays to the naming of who will form the next Government.

Just 330 out of 646 returning officers are planning to start counting votes when polls close at 10pm, according to research by the Electoral Commission - sparking fears the overall result could be held up until late the following night.

Newcastle and Northumberland councils will not begin counts until the morning after as speculation grows the General Election will be held on May 6. Mr Brown, MP for Newcastle East and Wallsend, said: "The reason the votes are counted immediately after the polls close is to stop people cheating.

"Leaving blank ballot papers and lists of those who haven't voted and the ballot boxes all together in the same place overnight is not a reassuring prospect. …

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