Burnley one of UK’s ‘most high-risk’ for election fraud

Ballot box
Ballot box

Burnley is one of the most high-risk areas for election fraud in Britain, according to a new report.

The town was named on the voter fraud danger list along with 15 other hotspot areas across the country, the Electoral Commission has said.

The watchdog highlighted Burnley as a potential problem area due to its history of voter fraud.

The Electoral Commission has now called on the Government to tighten up security by requiring voters to show passport or photo identification in polling booths.

Calls have also been made for police to be called in to monitor polling stations in high-risk vote-rigging areas like Burnley.

Recommendations have also been made to stop campaigners assisting other people in completing postal or proxy votes during elections.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said he would support tough action to stamp out the problem in the town.

He said: “The democratic process is very important in this country – we have fought wars to protect it.

“I will support any measure that stops election fraud and I support the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.

“We should really have ID to stop voter impersonation. If it is a close seat with a majority of 10 candidates could lose a seat.

“If there is fraud going on then it is unfair on all. It has gone on for years and it must stop.”

The highest profile case of electoral fraud in the town saw Daneshouse and Stoneyholme councillors Mozaquir Ali and Manzur Hussain given 18-month sentences for vote rigging offences in 2006.

The Electoral Commission said it was carrying out work to investigate whether there are particular problems in South Asian communities – particularly with roots in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

However, it said it would be a mistake to suggest that electoral fraud only takes place within specific South Asian communities.

Council Leader Julie Cooper said: “There has been serious fraud in the past and people went to jail over it. But Burnley Council has taken it seriously and continues to do so and the returning officer has put every possible step in place to ensure people vote correctly and fairly.

“I think we have made huge strides on this. I can understand the ID cards – I would not have a problem with it. But I would not want to do anything that would put people off voting.”