John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Thursday, April 14, 2005
  N463 sent to court
The application for urgent consideration has been faxed to the High Court. The following is the text of the explanation of why urgent consideration is required:

The date for the General Election has been set as 5th May. Postal vote fraud is likely to start about 2 weeks before that date unless measures are put in place to prevent it. The postal votes start being posted about 2 weeks before the election.

Although it may not be possible to implement the legislative changes requested in the remedies prior to the election if it is clear that two of them will come into operation after the election then they will act to discourage fraud.

The challenges in taking civil action through Election Petitions include:

a) There is only 21 days within which to decide whether to act or not.
b) It is not possible to check the application forms for postal votes until a court order has been obtained and a court order cannot be obtained until an election petition has been issued.
c) There are substantial costs for the losing side in an election petition.

This is a sort of Catch 22 situation where you cannot sensibly decide to initiate proceedings until you have evidence, but you cannot get evidence until you initiate proceedings.

Even if access to application forms for postal votes is given after the election if fraudsters know that they can be caught out they will not wish to indulge in major fraud (cf Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham, Woking, Reading etc etc etc).

To that extent the decision as to whether or not the law should be changed for reasons of compatibility should be taken (and as a consequence of media interest communicated) prior to the election.

It may be possible to use Privy Council procedures to make the changes prior to the election, but whichever remedy is implemented will make a substantial difference.
 
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