Free, fair elections are bedrock of society

I write regarding the recent headline in your paper declaring “Pendle is at Risk of Voter Fraud”, referring to the report by the Electoral Commission that it is setting up an inquiry into 16 council areas to examine the “vulnerability” of some South Asian communities to electoral fraud.

As your report says, this comes as no surprise to the people of Pendle where incidents of fraud have been reported for years, particularly among the Asian community. It is, of course, not only members of this community who are victims of this practice but also the majority of voters whose votes are de-valued and sometimes made irrelevant when hundreds or even thousands of fraudulent votes are cast and counted.

All of this stems from the disastrous decision by the New Labour Government to relax the rules on postal voting. Prior to this, electoral fraud was virtually unknown.

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The unelected jobsworths on the Electoral Commission witter on about new “codes of practice” to restrict political party activists from handling postal votes or introducing new ID requirements, neither of which will address the problem of manipulating postal votes behind closed doors. At the same time, they have ruled out simply re-instating the old rules on eligibility for postal votes, which restricted them to people who were too ill or absent from the country on polling day, and which worked so well. Instead they have decided to embark upon a lengthy and costly inquiry to find out what we already know. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

This is not a petty squabble about party politics. We are talking here about free and fair elections, which are the very bedrock of our political system and our democratic birthright. The act of turning out on polling day, of going along to our polling station, of sharing with others in our local communities our hard won right to cast a vote is one of the few opportunities left to us to demonstrate our shared commitment to these values.

John Turley