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Ministers ditched vital measures to stop voting fraud (to help Labour get more votes)

The Sunday Times have written an excellent article showing that Labour thought safeguards were needed, but didn't implement them for electoral benefit.

My barrister Jerry Hayes feels this is all grist to the mill for the election fraud JR.

He has now written the Skeleton Argument and with a bit of luck everything should go to court tomorrow.

This is his Skeleton Argument:

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

IN THE MATTER OF:

JOHN ALEXANDER MELVIN HEMMING
Claimant

-and-

ANTHONY LYNTON BLAIR
Defendant

CLAIMANT’S SKELETON ARGUMENT
IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 3 OF PROTOCOL NO. 1
OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

1. The regulations governing the conduct of the postal vote scheme for the General Election are contained within Part V of The Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 [S.I. 2001/0341], which came into force on 16th February 2001.

2. On 4th April 2005 at the Election Court in Birmingham, the Commissioner, deputy High Court Judge Richard Mawrey QC, made the following findings in his executive summary of his judgement:
(i) “The system for postal voting contains no effective safeguards and is an invitation to fraud”.
(ii) “Applications for postal votes can be sent to the Elections Office up to six days before polling day. If thousands of applications are sent in the final days the system can be overwhelmed. This happened in Birmingham in Birmingham in 2004”.
(iii) “The scheme for registering postal vote applications is hopelessly insecure. Although the application must by law, be signed by the voter in person, the Elections Office has no means of checking the validity of the signature or of the application. In any event, the Elections Office has neither the duty nor the resources to carry out any checks. If an application to vote bears something that looks like a signature, it must be accepted and the voter’s name must be put on the voter’s list”.
(iv) “An applicant for a postal vote can ask for the postal vote to be sent to an address other than that of the voter: obviously this gives assistance to fraud”.
(v) “Postal ballot packages are sent out by ordinary mail in clearly identifiable envelopes. Short of writing ‘STEAL ME’ on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands”.
(vi) “The system whereby a postal ballot is ‘verified’ by a Declaration of Identity (DOI) is farcical”
(vii) “Anyone who gets his hands on an unused postal ballot package knows that he can fill it in exactly how he likes and the resulting ballot paper and DOI, if completed, will be (must be) accepted by the Elections Office”.
(viii) “The law is indifferent as to how the completed ballot package gets to the Election Office. It is quite lawful for someone to collect it from the voter and promise to deliver it to the Elections Office. It is quite lawful for someone to collect it from the voter and promise to deliver it to the Elections Office. Some political parties encourage their supporters to do this”.
(ix) “The Returning Officer operates (as she must) on the basis that, if a ballot paper clearly shows votes against candidates, she will accept it, even though it contains crossing out or other markings. Anyone who gets a completed postal ballot before it reaches the Elections Office can open the envelope, take the ballot paper, scribble on one lot of crosses and substitute another before sending it off to the Elections office. That ballot paper will none the less be accepted as valid”.
(x) “The system is wide open to fraud and any would be political fraudster knows that it has been wide pen to fraud”.
(xi) “Since 2001, the Electoral Commission, the Returning Officers and the Elections Officers have warned that the system has insufficient safeguards against fraud. Some parts of the media have repeatedly warned against fraud”.
(xii) “The Returning Officer has no policing function whatsoever. Returning Officers do nor have a duty to investigate fraud and most importantly, they do not have the powers to investigate fraud”.
(xiii) “In the course of preparing my judgement, my attention was drawn to what I am told is an official government statement about postal voting which I hope I quote correctly:
There are no proposals to change the rules governing election procedures for the next election, including those for postal voting. The systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working.
Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tries and listened to the evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace banana republic would find this statement surprising. To assert that ‘the systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working’ indicates a state not simply of complacency but of denial. The systems to deal with fraud are not working well. They are not working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated”.

3. Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) provides:
“The High contracting parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”.

4. It was held in Mathieu-Mohin v Belgium (1987) 10 EHRR 1, that Article 3 of Protocol 1 does give rise to an individual right and can be the object of a compliant.

5. It is conceded that the rights under Article 3 of Protocol 1 are not absolute and may be subject to limitation subject to the condition that any limitation of the aforesaid rights must be a proportionate response to a legitimate aim in ensuring that the election represents “the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature” [Mathieu-Mohin v Belgium (1987) 10 EHRR 1].

6. It is submitted that, if the primary aim of the rights contained within Article 3 of Protocol 1 is to ensure “the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature”, it must be a proper and legitimate aim of the State to ensure that elections are fair and free from fraud.

7. It is further submitted that laws which have the practical effect of disenfranchising groups of people may contravene Article 3 of Protocol 1. For example, an inadequate system of postal voting might prevent disabled or ill people from exercising their right to vote. In Lippiatt v Electoral Registration officer Penwith District Council (County Court 21 March 1996 unreported) where a person was homeless, but had access to a day centre to be used as his correspondence the court held that the officer was wrong to refuse his application to go on the electoral roll.

8. It is submitted that the current regulations governing postal voting are incompatible with the rights guaranteed under Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR:
(i) This will be the first General Election that has been fought under the new postal voting on demand regulations [S.I. 2001/0341] and already applications have tripled since the last General Election.
(ii) It is submitted that, in light of the findings of deputy High Court Judge Richard Mawrey QC, it is clear that the regulations governing postal voting [S.I. 2001/0341] is so potentially corrupt, so open to abuse and so lacking in any safeguards to prevent votes being in stolen that it will inevitably result in election fraud.

(iii) It is submitted that a system which effectively encourages election fraud is necessarily incompatible with the rights guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol 1:
(a) Election fraud undermines the central aim of Article 3 of Protocol 1, which is to ensure that the elections reflect the genuine will of the people;
(b) Election fraud necessarily disenfranchises those whose votes have been “stolen” by those perpetrating the fraud (The electoral Court in Birmingham heard evidence from individuals who had attempted to vote only to be told that postal votes in their name had already been cast and so they could not cast their vote).

9. It is therefore submitted that the Court should compel the Defendant to ensure that the government introduces safeguards, by way of an Order in Council as set out in the application, to enable postal votes to reflect the free expression of the opinion of the people as soon as possible before the election on 5th May.

10. It is also submitted that the court declare that the regulations are also incompatible with Article 14 of the ECHR:
(i) Article 14 provides that “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, natural or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.”
(ii) Provisions have been put in place in respect of the election in Northern Ireland which provides for a complete and secure system of postal voting.
(iii) It is submitted that the fact that one part of the United Kingdom enjoys a secure voting system while the other parts amounts to discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights set forth in Article 3 of Protocol 1.


JERRY HAYES
2 Paper Buildings

8th April 2005

Comments

Josef said…
Thanks for posting this.

Here in Washington State, USA - my state & country, the conservative Evergreen Freedom Foundation noted extensively the Birmingham vote fraud crime in their first Election Reform Monitor - an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

There are also counties in my state that want to go to all-mail balloting. That's a big, big mistake methinks.

Josef of Josef's Public Journal
Voter said…
John,

Just wishing you the best of luck. Do let us know how you get on.

Best,

Voter.

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