Asked if there was any response to the Birmingham postal votes fraud judgement, the PMOS said that people would take note of the judgement and what the judge had said. However in addition, without in any way suggesting that there were not lessons to learn because there always were, but to put it in context, the Birmingham wards were 2 of just 5 disputed across the country in June 2004 when 17 million people voted in 78 European parliamentary constituencies and more than 6000 council wards. It was important to get that in perspective and at the same time study what the judge had said and learn any lessons from it. It was not being underestimated but it was right to keep it in perspective. It was also important to recognise that postal voting had increased voting participation. In response to the suggestion that nothing was going to happen, the PMOS said that we were already working with the Electoral Commission, police, political parties and returning officers to strengthen systems and raise awareness, to ensure that fraud was detected and prosecuted. There were already tough penalties: electoral fraudsters could face two years in prison and an unlimited fine, as well as disqualification from voting and standing for office. So the penalties were there as this case had proved. Asked why people should feel safer about their vote in the county elections set for May 5, the PMOS said that people were constantly learning from the process and were constantly trying to strengthen the system. However what people should not think was that there were no penalties for this. There were, and what people should not think was that this judgement would be ignored. It would not.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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