This week thousands of postal votes will be dropping through electors letterboxes across Lancashire for both the General Election and local government elections.
Lancashire based Sajjad has expressed concerns about vote fraud across the county, calling on local Police to act to protect electors to ensure they are able to complete their own vote according to their own wish.
Sajjad wants local Police to be more vigilant and for community groups in many areas of Lancashire and Greater Manchester to abide by election regulations or risk prosecution.
In recent elections there have been an increase in the number of police investigations into allegations that political activists are pressuring families into voting for their candidate, or taking ballot papers away to fill them in, which is illegal,
Commenting on the postal vote system Sajjad said:
“Despite concerns from the Electoral Commission and the Police, Labour liberalised the post vote system in 2001, meaning anyone on the electoral register could have a postal vote. Since then the number of people using absent votes has shot up over 200% in some constituencies. The numbers have gone up dramatically in every constituency but particularly in seats with substantial Asian electorates.
“But the current system has not boosted turnout or simplified the process, particularly for vulnerable people” he said. “It gives on opportunity for certain political activists to commit fraud on these communities.
“The way things stand currently, in constituencies with a high percentage of postal votes, there is the potential for fraud and intimidation tactics to rig the result as applications can be made without the knowledge of the elector and for postal ballot papers to be interfered with before their return.”
The MEP has written to the Lancashire Chief Constable seeking an assurance that the electorate in these areas are provided with extra policing and so feel free from intimidation and interference in the exercise of their ballot.
“Already I have heard reports of certain activists receiving unprecedented levels of concern being voiced in relation to the potential for postal vote fraud. Particularly in areas of Pendle constituency, where it appears that a sophisticated operation has been planned to effectively take away the right of a free vote from many electors.”
“Electors need to be confident that the police will provide immediate assistance should anyone find themselves intimidated or their ballot interfered with.
Sajjad believes that all electors should be protected by the secret ballot and said “Do not allow anyone to put pressure on you to vote for a particular candidate or political party. If anyone asks you to fill in someone a postal vote other than your own or to give them your postal vote so they can fill it in for you, be sure to refuse and contact the Police”