Thursday, June 10, 2004

From hanging chads to stolen chads 

The spectre of Florida haunts the northern England as the European Parliament election draws near: "There could be lawyers arguing in court for weeks or months," comments Charles Kennedy, the leader of Liberal Democrats, as police investigate potentially huge postal ballots fraud (in UK, the European Parliament elections are conducted exclusively this way).

"3,856,000 ballot papers, representing 27 per cent of the electorate, had been returned in the four pilot regions by Tuesday night, two days before polls closed. That compared with a total of 2,870,735 votes (20 per cent) cast in the 1999 European elections."
What's happening? The left-wing "Guardian" puts a positive spin on the figures: "Postal system boosts voter turnout, figures show." That's alright, then. Well, maybe not (returning to the previously quoted "Telegraph" story):

"Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, West Yorks, feared that the majority of the ballot frauds were part of 'a cultural problem' that faced Asians in the North.

"She said Muslims were coming under pressure from community elders to surrender their votes.

" 'People are going to homes, demanding that the voters give up their ballot papers - and that is what they are doing.' She said the Asian community 'tends to stick together' and, if one of its leaders knocked at the door and asked people to do something, 'they by and large do it'.

"She said: 'It is the sort of thing I was anxious about in the early stages of getting the Bill [setting up the procedure for conducting elections] through to have an all-postal ballot. But I did not dare mention it because you are accused then of being a racist. But the chickens are coming home to roost'."
Goodness, I hope that somebody's not trying to pervert the democratic process in order to get even with Tony Blair for his pro-American policies? In all the fairness, some reports suggest that all there major political parties are breaching the electoral guidelines (what a nice euphemism). Only time will tell (hopefully) who's been doing most of the dodgy stuff.


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