Election petitions

Posted by David Boothroyd
View David's blog
11 years ago / June 11, 2007

Lib Dem MP John Hemming helpfully provides a list of the eight election petitions which have been logged in relation to this May’s local elections. My interpretation follows.

  • Birmingham city council, Aston ward: A petition by Saeed Aehmed (Liberal Democrat) against the return of Muhammad Afzal (Labour). In the official result Afzal beat Aehmed by 2,684 to 2,005 (the Respect candidate and sitting councillor Abdul Aziz was second with 2,018). Aehmed alleges false claims were made about him during the election.
  • Burnley borough council, Rosegrove with Lowerhouse ward: A petition by electors Michelle Pilling, Scott Atkinson, Susan McDevitt and Ian Smith against the return of Paul Reynolds (Labour). When the count completed, Reynolds and Peter Rowe (British National Party) both had 489 votes, and Reynolds won on the drawing of lots. The electors say that the returning officer published a statement saying Reynolds had 490 votes. If so then the returning officer was right: the law states that the candidate who wins the drawing of lots receives an extra vote (the casting vote). They also say (more relevantly) that a ballot paper which should have been void for uncertainty was wrongly counted for Reynolds.
  • Calderdale borough council, Park ward: A petition by Shakir Saghir (English Democrat) against the return of Arshad Mahmood (Labour). In the official results Mahmood had 1,500 votes, while Saghir was bottom of the poll with 567. However Saghir alleges that the Respect candidate Sajid Mehmood, who was runner-up with 1,147 votes, was disqualified from election. Traditionally, election law has regarded disqualification of candidates as something to determine after the poll, and the fact that Sajid Mehmood did not win should not be a reason to disqualify the candidate who did.
  • Leicester city council, Abbey ward: A petition by John Fitch (Liberal) against the return of three Labour candidates. A ballot box was lost during the count, which meant that less than half of the vote was counted: the actual turnout was 3,663 ballot papers which could contain three votes, 10,989 votes, but the official result sums to 4,930 votes. If the ballot box can be found then they will count it and the winners will stand, but otherwise a byelection will have to be held.
  • Slough borough council, Central ward: A petition by Lydia Simmons (Labour) against the return of Eshaq Khan (Conservative). In the official results, Khan won 1,439 votes and Simmons was runner up with 1,319 votes. Simmons alleges postal voting fraud and false registration of electors.
  • Southsea town council, Kings ward: A petition by the defeated Conservative Terry Judkins against the return of three Liberal Democrats. The three successful candidates polled 505, 471, and 423 votes, while the defeated Conservatives had 318, 253 and 241. Judkins is asserting that factual claims in leaflets issued by the Liberal Democrats were incorrect.
  • South Holland district council, Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas ward: A petition by Angela Harrison (Conservative) against the return of Jim Astill (Liberal Democrat). Astill had 338 votes and Harrison 337 in the official results. However, a ballot box had gone missing. 1,413 voters cast votes in the three member ward which could make up to 4,239 votes (each elector had three), but the official results add up to 1,863. At a recount on 17 May, Harrison was found to have 608, and Astill 601, but the court is needed to alter the result. This looks like an open and shut case.
  • South Tyneside borough council, Beacon and Bents ward: A petition by Ahmed Khan (Ind) against the return of Audrey McMillan (Labour). McMillan had 905 votes and Khan was runner-up with 872 in the official results. Khan alleges false statements were made, postal ballots were opened early, a candidate for another ward was seen to have postal ballots, and one of the polling stations was wrongly placed at a community centre where McMillan was chair of the management committee. None of these allegations seem to amount to a reason to overturn the result.