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Sunday, June 10, 2007
  Election Petitions 2007
Election Petitions 2007

For the interests of the psephological political junkies I have obtained copies of all 8 election petitions that have been issued in England and Wales for the local elections in May 2007 and will give a summary of each of them. I have put my comments as to how I think the cases are likely to progress.

Terry Judkins Conservative of Portsmouth has issued a petition against the Lib Dem Candidates for Southsea Ward (who won) because of leaflets issued by both the Lib Dems and a group of candidates known as "Why Pay Extra" claiming that the leaflets about the sale of Palmerston Road Shops which claimed that the voters had been "hoodwinked by Southsea Town Council" were untrue. This will be a debate about the facts.

Angela Harrison has issued a petition against James Astill in the Ward of Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas in South Holland District. James Astill was declared as having 338 votes and Angela Harrison 337, but not all the ballot papers were counted. When there was a recount including the papers on 17th May Angela Harrison had 608 votes and James Astill 601 votes. This looks a straightforward one to me and if I were James Astill I would try to minimise the costs by basically accepting the petition. The returning officer should pay the costs here.

Ahmed Khan has issued a petition against Audrey McMillan in Beacon and Benis ward of South Tyneside Council. This is based upon claimed false statements by the Labour Candidate, that "a serving councillor and candidate for election in the Horsley Hill Ward, Iain Malcolm, was observed to be in unauthorised possession of postal ballot papers"; postal ballot papers were opened early; Audrey McMillan's supporters blocked entrances to the polling stations, Ocean Road Community Centre should not have been chosen as the polling station because Audrey McMillan was the chair of the Management Committee and the electorate was not consulted; that they were not told how many postal ballot papers were obtained.
This looks like a mixture of complaints none of which would invalidate the election.

Lydia Emelda Simmons has issued a petition against Eshaq Khan for Central Borough of Slough. This makes claims about false registrations and postal voting fraud. Eshaq Khan won by 1439 votes to 1319 votes. This one will depend upon the evidence. If the petitioner can prove that the winning candidate or one of his agents did the fraud then she will win however many votes it is (as long as the candidate or his formal agent can be proven to have known what was going on). Alternatively if she can prove that more than 120 votes for the winning candidate were corrupted then she can get a declaration of "general corruption".

Saeed Aehmed Lib Dem has issued a petition against Muhammed Afzal Labour in Aston Ward, Birmingham. This petition is about false claims about Saeed by agents on behalf of the Labour Party.
This will rest on proof

John Fitch has a petition against Tom Stephenson in Abbey Ward of Leicester City Council. This is based upon the fact that only 4,930 of the 9,099 votes cast have been counted.
This depends upon the facts and the recount

Michelle Pilling, Scott Atkinson, Susan McDevitt and Ian Smith, voters in Burnley have issued a petition against Paul Reynolds in Rosegrove and Lowerhouse Ward of Burnley Council. In this case Paul Reynolds and Peter John Rowe both got 489 votes and after the drawing of lots Paul Reynolds was declared to be elected. However, the returning officer published a notice which said that Paul Reynolds had 490 votes and Peter Rowe 489 and that a ballot paper that was void for uncertainty was counted.
This is basically a call for a recount

Shakir Saghir English Democrat has issued a petition against Arshad Mahmood Labour in Park Ward of Calderdale on the basis that the Respect Candidate was a disqualified candidate. The winning Labour candidate got 1,500 Respect 1,147 and the Lib Dem 1,022. This is a petition that should invalidate the election. Whether it would allow the reopening of nominations or merely re-run with the same candidates (excluding the one who should not been allowed to stand) is something I would not be clear on and may be within the discretion of the election court.
 
Comments:
the burnley case is not a call for a recount but essentially essentially a challenge to the RO's positive adjudication of a disputed ballot paper of a Labour vote
 
On the Calderdale petition, the Election Court could take the view that the disputed status of the Respect candidate had no material effect on the outcome, as it was a Labour candidate who was returned, and deny the petition.
 
The Burnley one has been decided, there is to be a recount.
 
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