Dead Men Left

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Prelude to illegality": New Labour postal voting issues continue

Upcoming in Socialist Worker, alongside a report from Hackney (where applications for postal votes have increased 3,297% since 2001):

Respect candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow, George Galloway, has announced the party will taking action under the Human Rights Act to ensure "free and fair elections."

This follows the distribution of post cards by the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison organisation asking voters to fill in a postal vote application form to "make life easier." This form contains a box where applicants can fill in an address other than the one they are registered at.

This postcard - open to anyone to read - is to be returned to the official sounding Postal Votes Centre, Freepost NAT 14962, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 3BP. This is a Labour Party office.

Galloway says, "This is a roundabout way to register, better to send it to the returning officer."

After the Birmingham case, where Labour councillors caught at midnight sitting round a table in a warehouse with piles of postal votes waiting to be filled in, Galloway has accused New Labour of flouting Electoral Commission guidelines, adding, "Ballot papers have a habit of sticking to New LabourĀ¹s fingers."

At the very least Respect is demanding postal votes be counted separately as
the only way to investigate the impact of such votes on the election results.

I saw one of the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Committee application forms on Sunday. They're quite subtle, relative to - say - mugging a postman; after asking for your name and address, the card innocently enquires as to whether you would like, perchance, your vote to be sent elsewhere. Most people, wanting their votes to be sent to their house, will leave this blank. It would not be tremendously difficult, if someone wished, to fill in an alternative address. Without going that far, it would be very easy to record someone's address, and perhaps check up on them later. This was a key part of the Birmingham technique.

None of the above means the postal vote is being rigged, yet; but it would make it very easy to do so. I saw Oona King, marginally more coherent than usual, on the BBC news last night, holding forth about supporting "democracy". Let's hope she keeps her word.