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Illegal opportunities for student voters

first_imgYesterday’s local and European elections were shrouded in controversy across the country as the postal vote system was lambasted from all sides and arrests carried out over alleged abuse. In Oxford, many students took advantage of postal votes to enable them to vote in their home local elections as well as the Oxford ones, especially students from London who wanted to take part in elections for the Mayor of London and the General London Assembly. David Adams, who lives in Richmond, told Cherwell, “I wanted to vote for Ken Livingstone because the Mayor of London will represent me for several years after I’ve left Oxford, and so postal voting saved me trekking back home yesterday.” While Oxford seemed to avoid problems with malpractice and delivery, there were smaller cases of confusion. Some students were unaware that it was illegal to vote in the European Elections twice. The confusion seems to have risen because both local and European elections were held on the same day, and students assumed that the rules were the same for both, despite posters at the polling stations warning of the illegality of voting twice in the latter. A spokeswoman for the Electoral Services Department said that if individuals were found to have voted twice, they would be reported to the police and prosecuted. Hiren Naik complained that “it was all far too confusing. I only realised I was allowed to vote on the ballot paper for the local elections but not the one for the European elections when I got to the voting booth. I’m sure some students must have mistakenly voted twice.” In Lancashire, police are questioning 60 people about 170 proxy vote applications while Greater Manchester Police are probing malpractice claims. Elsewhere, problems with printing and postal systems left voters without sufficient time to return ballots and so emergency polling stations were set up in areas including Bolton. Postal ballots were intended to boost turnout, and early indications suggest that they may have done so by as much as 25% in some parts of the country.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004last_img read more