Postal vote legal battle could delay general election
THE general election could be postponed if a Liberal Democrat bid to make postal voting more secure is agreed by the High Court.
Tomorrow, the deputy leader of Britain’s largest local authority will ask for a judicial review of electoral procedures, amid widespread fears that the postal voting system is open to abuse.
John Hemming, leader of the Lib Dems on Birmingham City Council, will press his case and call for a full hearing as a matter of urgency.
"I’m not trying to defer the general election but if the judge determined it was unlawful and ordered the Prime Minister to change the law and he didn’t and that started bouncing around - there are a lot of interesting constitutional implications," Mr Hemming said. "If it is declared unlawful, the question is, ‘What happens?’"
Mr Hemming, who is also the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Birmingham Yardley, will press his case that the vulnerability of the system compromises the secret ballot and could breach the Human Rights Act.
He was involved in raising the alarm about postal fraud in Birmingham council elections last summer, which led to six Labour councillors being expelled from office.
At a special hearing, the election commissioner, Richard Mawrey, QC, described the electoral fraud at the council election as something that "would disgrace a banana republic" and warned that the postal voting system was wide open to abuse.
Tomorrow, Mr Hemming will call for postal votes to be counted separately from ballot-box votes and for political parties to be allowed to check postal voting applications.
The unprecedented legal application at the Royal Courts of Justice in London will come as police chiefs and civil servants discuss how to stamp out any possibility of ballot-rigging. Officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will also be present.
Returning officers were struggling to cope with an "explosion" of postal vote applications, said David Monks, a representative of returning officers. People can apply for postal votes until six days before polling day.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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