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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Labour warned on postal votes

Interesting article in today's Guardian regarding an Electoral Commission report into the Glasgow North East by-election that highlights just how competitive elections are getting at the moment.

The Commission expressed some concern about the high number of last minute postal vote applications that came in just before the deadline and in particular say that Labour "did not comply" with a code of conduct that requires political parties to hand in every postal vote application within two days of receiving them:

The commission said an unusually high number of last minute postal vote applications were made in Glasgow North East, with 1,800 forms submitted less than three days before the registration deadline – more than a quarter of the total number received.

A spot check of 300 of those forms by the returning officer's staff found that in at least 100 cases these applications had been dated more than a week and in some cases over a month earlier.

Nearly half of the last-minute registrations came from Labour supporters, sparking allegations from the Scottish National party – first reported by The Guardian – that Labour had been deliberately hoarding postal votes to help its campaign.

The commission also challenged Labour for delaying the byelection for nearly five months after the resignation of the then-Commons speaker Michael Martin. It moved the writ 116 days after Martin moved to the House of Lords.

The Commission said the byelection could have been held "much earlier" and urged parliament to introduce rules to ensure it held byelections "promptly".

It added: "The length of the vacancy in the Glasgow North East constituency meant that people in the constituency were not represented in the UK parliament for more than four and a half months."

Will this change things. I doubt it but a marker has been put down and no doubt it will be revisited after the General Election.
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