Tuesday, 29 April 2008

The Times: Abolish postal voting on demand. Now

[...] Postal voting fraud is even worse than roll-stuffing, because real people are denied their voice. Government says postal voting is “more convenient”. You betcha. It is convenient for patriarchs and “community leaders”, bullies who gather up the votes of weaker members of their group and deliver them to the desired candidate. The report carefully points out that cheating is not exclusive to any one party or social group, but admits that in the “biraderi” system among some British Asians the practice of mutual support creates a village politics culture: “Extended family and kinship networks are mobilised to secure the support of up to several hundred electors.”

It is obviously important not to demonise ethnic minorities; nor is this the only problem. Inaccuracies, inefficiencies, inequities are mercilessly skewered in the report. Nonetheless, it is a dismaying reflection that in modern Britain thousands of women, young people and new citizens can have their votes compelled as surely as if they were at gunpoint in Zimbabwe. Only 46 per cent of British Asians regard postal voting as safe. When there was a parallel concern in sectarian Northern Ireland, postal votes were limited to those who could prove genuine inability to get to a polling booth; moreover, to prevent roll-stuffing, each voter registers individually. With a photo and national insurance number. Not just on a list written by the family boss. Read more
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