Ex-Tory councillor on trial for vote-rigging in election fraud hotspot

The Halifax Courier reports:

A FORMER Calderdale councillor is set to stand trial for alleged vote rigging.

Mohammed Saghir, 63, of Gibbet Street, Halifax, has denied five charges of rigging proxy votes.

He is alleged to have applied for proxy votes under different names during the local elections in April 2008.

Saghir was elected as a Conservative councillor for St John’s, now Park ward, in 2000.

This is rather a hotspot for election fraud, proved or alleged, for this is what Mohammed Saghir’s opponents were up to in the same election:

TWO cousins of ex-councillor Mohammed Najib voted for him under false names, a court heard.

Saeed Aslam, 21, and Gularif Bostan, 27, admitted impersonating other people when they voted in the Calderdale Council elections on May 1, 2008…

Mr Najib lost his seat in Park ward last year after 22 years. He was arrested and questioned over election fraud but released without charge.

Aslam, of Vulcan Close, Flatts, Dewsbury, and Bostan, of Savile Grove, Savile Town, Dewsbury, were sentenced to 12 months’ community service with 300 hours of unpaid work and £60 costs. [Halifax Courier]

And there’s more, because in the previous year this happened:

A HALIFAX election candidate who failed to declare his criminal record has appeared in court.

Sajid Mehmood, 36, of Saxon Street, off Hanson Lane, Halifax, admitted making a false statement on nomination papers.

He stood for the Respect Party in Park ward, Halifax, in council elections in May. [Halifax Courier]

It’s because of the (thankfully rare) hot-spots like this that I’ve argued in the past there should be scope for imposing extra legal safeguards against electoral fraud if an area’s track record justifies it.

For example, extra safeguards against impersonation would come with a cost – both financial and in terms of voter convenience. But if an area has a track record of attempts to rig elections, it would be sensible to allow extra safeguards to be introduced (with appropriate safeguards so it doesn’t become just a political pawn in a game of ‘depress your opponent’s turnout’).

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