LETTER: Postal vote open to abuse in patriarchal communities

Coun. Joe Cooney’s comments about anomalies in postal voting (“Council leader’s electoral fraud claim”, Leader Times, April 5th) would not endear him to some of his fellow councillors.

But he was only expressing the views of many in the electorate.

When postal and proxy voting was introduced, it was intended for those who for reasons of incapacity or absence were genuinely unable to go to the polling station.

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The problems referred to by Coun. Cooney are the result of Labour opening up postal voting for all and sundry. In its greedy scramble for votes, it has virtually wiped out this country’s one man, one vote system.

This is particularly obvious among some patriarchal Asian communities, where community leaders and heads of extended families can and do demand to see the postal ballot of those under their influence.

Long delayed safeguards, like having to sign the accompanying form for example, will do nothing to stop this happening either.

Because of domestic pressure, it is widely known one result of this system has been the effective disenfranchisement of thousands of Asian women who should have had a vote. Equally as bad, but not as well known, it has also disenfranchised lower status men in many Asian communities.

I have acted as a number checker at several past elections, and have been appalled to see people coming to the polling station carrying handfuls of “postal” votes.

Tinkering with the postal voting system is pointless because where there is a will, a way will be found around any changes.

The only way to eliminate voting anomalies in the future is for the system to return to its original objective, which was allowing postal votes only to those who are physically unable to attend the polling station.

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