The police have confirmed that they are looking into allegations of postal vote irregularities, bribery, corruption and fraud regarding the recent by-election in Peterborough.

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The parliamentary constituency of Peterborough is definitely having it's fifteen minutes of fame, but not all for the right reasons.

It became the first constituency where the sitting MP, Fiona Onasanya, was ousted by the new recall procedure.

Then it became the first constituency where the brand new party led by Nigel Farage, The Brexit Party, stood in a by-election on the 6th of June.

And now we have the police looking into alleged election irregularities regarding that very by-election.

The Labour Party candidate, Lisa Forbes, won the vote narrowly by 683 votes with The Brexit Party candidate, Mike Greene, coming second.

And Cambridgeshire police say that they are looking at three allegations of postal vote offences, one of fraud and corruption and one of breach of the privacy of the vote.

There were 9,898 postal votes out of the 33,998 ballot papers received, that's 29%. And there were 400 postal votes rejected due to errors in the signature and/or the date of birth, that's 4%.

At the time of the vote it was reported that sources within The Brexit Party believed that election irregularities were occurring and the leader of the party, Nigel Farage, went as far as to call it a 'rotten borough' and that the postal vote system had caused his party to lose to Labour by that very narrow margin of 683 votes.

Talking to the Mail, Nigel Farage said:

"I think there is something inherently wrong with the entire postal voting process in this country. I think it's open to corruption, bribery, intimidation, abuse. We've seen so many cases now where again and again we find – particularly in the inner cities – postal voting is producing the wrong results.

"And I'm afraid Peterborough looks like another one of those rotten boroughs."

There were reports of a Twitter user claiming he and some friends had burned 1,000 votes cast for The Brexit Party, another claim that bribery had occurred and reports that some voters had photographed their ballot papers, "…leading to concerns that they were fulfilling some form of contract" reported the Guardian.

Now, postal voting can be a very good thing for those that cannot get to the polling booth for legitimate reasons such as due to ill-health or due to absence from the constituency on the day of the vote.

But when used on a wider scale it seems to attract controversy and claims of election fraud, which does not serve our democracy well at all.

And the biggest concern must be that the votes of the vulnerable could be misused by those who wield control over them. Whether they be carers or family members.

The staff in a polling station can keep an eye on what goes on in and around the booths. But how do we know who is standing over someone filling in a postal vote form at home?

And the very fact that postal votes are more prone to fraud must surely mean that their issue should be strictly controlled. And where postal votes are rejected in the way 400 of these were, then should they not be investigated?

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/17/police-look-into-claims-of-irregularities-at-peterborough-byelection

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-48665324

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