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Lib Dems unhappy with votes experiment

PUBLISHED: 08:58 17 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

ST EDMUNDSBURY Liberal Democrats have expressed their grave reservations about the mandatory total postal vote that is being held throughout the borough in May's council elections.

ST EDMUNDSBURY Liberal Democrats have expressed their grave reservations about the mandatory total postal vote that is being held throughout the borough in May's council elections.

Sanctioned by the Government, it is hoped the experiment will lead to increased voter turnout. While some authorities such as Ipswich will experiment with Internet, e-mail, and mobile telephone voting, St Edmundsbury has opted for a postal vote with electors sending in ballots before the day of the election.

David Chappell, chairman of Bury St Edmunds constituency Liberal Democrats, accepted there was a need for those suffering from ill health or infirmity to have the right to vote by post.

"However, I am very worried about electoral fraud and the coercion of voters which could arise from a total postal vote," said Mr Chappell. "When a similar experiment was conducted in Bolton, 150 ballot papers were witnessed by one person. The system, unless properly policed, could be open to massive fraud.

"A vote must be private, secret, and personal. But without the secrecy of the ballot box, there could be considerable influence put to bear by one family member on the others to vote in a particular way."

EXPECT more Liberal Democrat councillors after May's election – that was warning sent from the conference to Labour and the Tories across the six counties of the East of England.

Chairman Stuart Merritt predicted a number of successes, and predicted the party would do well in Colchester, Mid Suffolk and Babergh.

"The Tories are in disarray and I expect we will pick up hundreds of votes from dissatisfied Conservatives. We have the potential to do well and I expect us to fulfil it." 


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