Election watchdog investigates Tower Hamlets count

Election watchdog investigates Tower Hamlets count

Council accused of failing to prevent voters being intimidated outside voting stations during last week’s elections.

The election watchdog is to investigate the handling of the count in Tower Hamlets after long delays and accusations of intimidation outside polling stations.

A full result for the local election has still not been declared by the London borough, which will begin recounting for the Bromley South ward on Tuesday evening. The delays also meant London was one of the last UK regions to return results in the European poll.

The council has been accused of failing to prevent intimidation of voters outside voting stations. Some politicians said they saw crowds shouting at people as they arrived to cast their votes, and leaflets were said to have been left in booths to influence voters at the last minute.

Mile End Labour councillor Rachael Saunders told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that police had committed to ensuring there were only two people per party allowed outside the polling stations, “but in fact there were huge crowds at some, shouting at people or encouraging them to vote in a particular way”.

She said presiding officers should have ensured leaflets were removed from booths but failed to do so.

Peter Golds, leader of the Conservative group, said: “There were four people supporting one particular candidate standing outside and then, as I entered the school, there were 11 of his supporters in the playground. They were picking on certain residents and going up to them trying to persuade them to vote right up to the moment they entered the room to vote.”

The Electoral Commission said it would look into what happened during the count and the planning carried out in the runup to it.

A spokeswoman said: “Everyone should be able to vote free from intimidation and be confident that their vote is safe. It is also important that elections produce results voters can have confidence in and that candidates know the outcome as soon as possible.

Press Association

The Guardian, 

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