The MP for Pendle has made allegations regarding widespread electoral fraud in East Lancashire's Asian community in a debate in the House of Commons. Andrew Stephenson suggested that Asian women in his constituency had told him they had no idea who they had voted for because their husbands had completed the forms. Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle confirmed that he had also heard 'reports of wholesale fraud on an industrial scale'.
The comments were made during a debate on the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill in the House of Commons. Mr Stephenson and Mr Birtwistle suggested that 'family voting', where an individual's voting form is completed by another member of their family, often without their knowledge, was on the increase due to flaws in the postal voting system.
Pendle Council confirmed this week that they had passed three allegations of postal voting fraud to the Police. The Lancashire Telegraph also reported today that they are investigating postal and proxy votes in Blackburn and Darwen. There is a continuing investigation into electoral fraud in Hyndburn. Mr Stephenson commented:
"This is a particular issue in the South Asian community and indeed I have met Asian women in my constituency, who have told me they have no idea who they voted for as their husband did it.
"We cannot allow electoral fraud and the suspicion of electoral fraud to continue and become another reason for undermining community cohesion”.
Electoral fraud is a highly specialised area of criminal law and if anyone is under suspicion or investigation he or she should immediately contact a solicitor who has experience of such cases. These investigations are typically lengthy and complex because of the legal, electoral, and cultural issues involved. Cases can result in prosecution, but others do not, depending on evidential and public interest issues.
There have been examples of prosecutions brought by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service recently in Lancashire and Yorkshire in which we have defended, which have taken many months if not years to come to court.
By Paul Schofield, Electoral Fraud Solicitor