Political

Did Labour’s Camden election campaign break the law?

Labour’s eve-of-poll election leaflet in Kentish Town looks like it could land them in legal hot water for breaking election law.

The law makes it an illegal offence to issue imitation poll cards – the idea is to make sure that official looking instructions on where and how to cast your vote must only come from the Returning Officer to protect voters against dirty tricks.

It’s a long-standing law and I can’t recall any party ever getting close to breaching it. All parties issue instructions to their supporters about where to vote etc – but they never try to pass them off as polling cards … except now enter, stage left, Camden Labour party.

On the day before polling, they distributed letters in envelopes marked on the outside simple “Urgent: poll card inside”. The letters said, “The polling card sent with this letter …” and the package did indeed also contain an insert that contained polling card information like where and when to vote, but with the instruction to put your cross against the Labour candidate’s name as the only way of voting.

This looks like a pretty open and shut case of a breach of the law which says it is illegal to issue any poll card or a document closely resembling one. Doubtless Labour will argue that people were not fooled by their own poll card – but if the law says you can’t produce one, then you can’t – you can’t just pick and choose which election rules to follow and which to ignore. Rather ironic for the party that claims to be tough on crime…

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