Could Labour voter fraud steal the elec­tion?

Thou­sands of postal votes handed en masse to polling sta­tions. Stu­dent hous­ing trawled for dis­carded reg­is­tra­tion cards... all to cyn­i­cally take ad­van­tage of our wor­ry­ingly lax elec­tion sys­tem. And a prime tar­get? The PM’s own crunch seat

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - by Sue Reid Ad­di­tionAL re­port­ing: Gre­gory Kirby

THE wrestling match be­tween the two fierce-look­ing young men is about to start. Up in the ring, bearded Ali Mi­lani, in black shorts, faces his op­po­site num­ber wear­ing salmon pink, as spec­ta­tors cheer in a sports hall.

The ref­eree asks them to shake hands to get the bat­tle un­der way when, sud­denly, Ali’s fist flies out, slam­ming into the chin of his op­po­nent who stag­gers back, nearly fall­ing to the floor. Ali is play­ing dirty be­cause he likes to win.

And his crit­ics fear that sup­port­ers of this 26-year-old Labour can­di­date and for­mer big­wig of the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents may do the same, as he takes on the Prime Min­is­ter in Boris John­son’s Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip con­stituency in West Lon­don, where thou­sands of stu­dent votes are up for grabs.

Al­ready the foot-sol­diers of the grass­roots hard-Left Labour move­ment Mo­men­tum are on the ground here for one of the clos­est-fought con­tests of the elec­tion. They and other Cor­byn-sup­port­ing ac­tivists are cam­paign­ing on the huge cam­pus of Brunel Uni­ver­sity and the sub­ur­ban streets out­side, wav­ing ban­ners and putting up posters with the slo­gan Un­seat Boris and a ruder ep­i­thet ‘F**k Boris’.

Mo­bil­is­ing the stu­dents is cru­cial if Ali is to top­ple Boris, whose ma­jor­ity halved in 2017 to just 5,034 — the small­est of any pre­mier since 1924. If suc­cess­ful, Ali could cause the first British prime min­is­ter in of­fice to lose his seat in more than a cen­tury.

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, a 27-year-old soft­ware en­gi­neer and Labour cam­paigner Phil McMa­hon was dish­ing out leaflets at Brunel, telling stu­dents to reg­is­ter to vote by next Tues­day’s 5pm dead­line. ‘Nine out of ten here sup­port our calls to vote Boris out of his seat,’ he told the Mail. ‘Most didn’t know they could vote at their stu­dent ad­dress un­til we told them.’

An­other, free­lance writer Aranyo Aar­jan, 29, said none of the ‘reg­is­tra­tion squad’ eye­ing up stu­dents were from Uxbridge. ‘We are tar­get­ing this area to strate­gi­cally re­move Boris,’ she said. ‘If I knew the stu­dent I was talk­ing to was a Tory sup­porter, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t en­cour­age them to reg­is­ter.’

AND Ali him­self added: ‘The stu­dent vote is su­per-im­por­tant here. There are 15,000 in the con­stituency. The Tory Party would never set foot on cam­pus. They don’t knock on doors like we do. The book­ies’ odds have short­ened the odds on a Labour win here.’

The whole is­sue of stu­dent votes is a hot elec­tion topic. Shock­ing sto­ries of ger­ry­man­der­ing in some of the 130 UK uni­ver­sity towns and cities dur­ing Theresa May’s ill-fated 2017 cam­paign have been re­vealed by the Mail. And this week it emerged that this time round, stu­dents have been regis­tered to vote ‘by mis­take’ and without their knowl­edge.

In an un­nerv­ing de­ba­cle, it is claimed that polling cards ar­rived un­ex­pect­edly at their ad­dresses in coun­cil ar­eas of Ply­mouth, Lan­caster, Not­ting­ham

and Hen­don, North Lon­don — all mar­ginal seats.

Po­ten­tially, this would al­low stu­dents to vote twice — both at home and at uni­ver­sity — which is il­le­gal.

An inquiry by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion vot­ing watch­dog has been de­manded af­ter Ply­mouth Coun­cil ad­mit­ted an er­ror had been made, with 247 un­der-18s who are too young to vote re­ceiv­ing polling cards.

In all, 850 stu­dents and young­sters have been in­cor­rectly added to the reg­is­ter in this tightly con­tested part of the coun­try.

It would not be the first time peo­ple un­der 18 had voted.

The po­lit­i­cal gos­sip web­site Guido Fawkes re­ported how James Mills, a for­mer Se­nior Strate­gic Ad­viser to Jeremy Cor­byn and for­mer Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions to shadow Chan­cel­lor John Mc­Don­nell ad­mit­ted pre­vi­ously vot­ing when un­der age. On the pod­cast of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­viewer and satirist Matt Forde, he said: ‘I don’t know if I should ad­mit this...but the first time I ever voted was ac­tu­ally il­le­gally.’

Mills claimed he pre­tended to be his brother, who was at uni­ver­sity at the time, and voted in a lo­cal elec­tion when he was in his mid-teens. He added that the coun­cil knew who he was but let him vote any­way: ‘What’s more Labour than elec­toral fraud, eh?’

Amid the con­fu­sion over stu­dent votes, one par­ent whose daugh­ter is at uni­ver­sity in Hen­don — where the spot­light fell this week — told a na­tional news­pa­per: ‘She never regis­tered at her uni­ver­sity ad­dress but sur­prise, sur­prise got a polling card de­liv­ered as well as one at our home ad­dress (in Lu­ton, Bed­ford­shire). It’s a dis­grace. Hen­don has a slim Con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity of only 1,000. Strange, that.’

Uni­ver­si­ties are as­so­ci­ated with vot­ing for Left-wing par­ties, and in the 2017 elec­tion 60 per cent of those aged 16-24 backed Jeremy Cor­byn. The Mo­men­tum move­ment helped Labour win 32 new seats back then and this time it is specif­i­cally tar­get­ing five con­stituen­cies where there is a sit­ting Tory MP and a high youth pop­u­la­tion.

Mo­men­tum has worked out that if 19,000 young vot­ers reg­is­ter in the seats of Uxbridge, Wal­sall North, Truro and Fal­mouth, Lough­bor­ough and the cities of Lon­don and West­min­ster, they could all get a Labour win. David Mor­ris, the Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date cam­paign­ing for re-elec­tion in More­cambe and Lunes­dale — an area that neigh­bours a Labour-held con­stituency in­clud­ing stu­dent-filled Lan­caster — has given ev­i­dence at a par­lia­men­tary inquiry into

the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion. He warned this week that ‘ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties have gone on and are go­ing on in all our uni­ver­sity towns and cities.’

Cam­pus scams in­clude dou­blevot­ing — reg­is­ter­ing to vote in two dif­fer­ent con­stituen­cies (home and uni­ver­sity, for in­stance) then go­ing on to vote in both. This is thought to be wide­spread.

Last month, the Mail re­vealed how a Bournemout­h Uni­ver­sity stu­dent posted a Twit­ter mes­sage say­ing she was plan­ning to break the law by vot­ing in both con­stituen­cies and told oth­ers to ‘be brave’ and do the same.

Con­tro­ver­sial stu­dent vote frauds also in­clude us­ing a postal vote in a home con­stituency as well as vot­ing in per­son at the polling sta­tions at uni­ver­sity.

There have been sus­pected cases of ‘per­son­ation’, where a stu­dent votes, pre­tend­ing to be an­other con­stituent. This is an easy scam be­cause at polling sta­tions you only have to give a name and ad­dress and do not have to pro­duce your polling card.

The most preva­lent fraud is thought to be mul­ti­ple vot­ing. It in­volves us­ing the regis­tered polling de­tails of other peo­ple on a mass scale. Uni­ver­si­ties are vul­ner­a­ble to this be­cause polling cards for thou­sands of regis­tered stu­dents are dis­trib­uted to cam­puses and halls of res­i­dence.

They are of­ten sent to stu­dents who have al­ready left uni­ver­sity for the hol­i­days — a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem with this elec­tion given that polling day co­in­cides with Christ­mas end of term — or to those who have al­ready grad­u­ated, some­times years be­fore.

Af­ter they have been col­lected by cam­pus cam­paign­ers, the polling cards are re­dis­tributed to other like-minded stu­dents.

On Uni­ver­sity so­cial me­dia sites there is even talk of stu­dents reg­is­ter­ing to get a polling card then selling it on to Left-wing ac­tivists who then use it.

All this is a worry to Karl Mc­Cart­ney, Lin­coln’s Tory can­di­date and for­mer MP, who was trounced by Labour in 2017 and finds him­self hav­ing to con­vince 18,000 stu­dents at two uni­ver­si­ties in the city to vote Con­ser­va­tive.

He has voiced con­cerns about mys­te­ri­ous go­ings-on in the last na­tional poll. Dur­ing the last 24 hours be­fore vote reg­is­tra­tion closed, he dis­cov­ered a bumper 3,600 ap­pli­ca­tions were made through the in­ter­net in Lin­coln.

There were so many the lo­cal coun­cil elec­toral team boasted to the lo­cal me­dia that they had done a fine job by manag­ing to process them all be­fore the loom­ing dead­line. How­ever, the dili­gent team found as many as 600 of those ap­ply­ing at this 11th hour were al­ready regis­tered.

Mr Mc­Cart­ney re­ported the mat­ter to the po­lice (who found noth­ing amiss), but he’s not so sure. He said this week: ‘Though some of these last-minute reg­is­tra­tions will have been gen­uine, I think ac­tivists, per­haps linked to Mo­men­tum, were work­ing away on lap­tops some­where . . . us­ing peo­ple’s data to make mass reg­is­tra­tions and swamp the web­site in the hope of bounc­ing the coun­cil team into pro­cess­ing them without ad­e­quate checks.’

David Mor­ris, the Tory can­di­date in More­cambe and Lunes­dale, has sus­pi­cions, too. He told the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion par­lia­men­tary inquiry that ac­tivists knock on doors in some uni­ver­sity towns ask­ing res­i­dents if they have un­used postal votes which they take away and use.

He also says his own son, in a uni­ver­sity town, found cam­paign­ers at his door want­ing the vot­ing cards of eight stu­dents who had once lived there and since grad­u­ated, so they could be used by other stu­dents.

Among his wor­ries is that Lan­caster City Coun­cil re­ceived 9,001 postal votes be­fore polling took place in the 2015 elec­tion when the Tories were re­turned to power with a ma­jor­ity. yet on elec­tion day, 10,315 were counted.

Mor­ris be­lieves the ex­tra 1,314 must have been de­liv­ered di­rectly and in bulk to the polling sta­tions — which is un­ortho­dox but per­fectly le­gal — and queries if there was then time for of­fi­cials to ver­ify the own­ers, as is re­quired.

The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion ad­mit­ted there are con­cerns over such dis­crep­an­cies. Last year, Claire Bas­sett, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, told the par­lia­men­tary inquiry of the prob­lem of ‘postal vote har­vest­ing’.

she warned: ‘The clas­sic sce­nario would be a cam­paigner for a par­tic­u­lar party . . . col­lect­ing up (postal votes) from door knock­ing and tak­ing them to a polling sta­tion on the ac­tual day. The folk­lore is of a plas­tic bag full of postal votes.’

The stu­dent vot­ing con­tro­versy is not go­ing away. One telling mes­sage from a reader on the pages of an on­line news­pa­per, The Lin­col­nite — which cov­ers the city of Lin­coln with its plethora of stu­dent vot­ers — said re­cently: ‘Per­haps the po­lice should find the stu­dents who bragged openly on Tv about vot­ing twice. Once at uni­ver­sity and once at home. They stated openly on air that lots of stu­dents were do­ing this be­cause of Labour’s promise to get rid of tu­ition fees. Guar­an­teed to get the stu­dent vote.’

Our own ex­posé a fort­night ago of stu­dent vot­ing scams gar­nered nearly 6,000 com­ments from read­ers. One said of the 2017 elec­tion: ‘Our youngest is at drama school and con­tacted me to tell me she had been regis­tered — through the uni­ver­sity — and had been given a vot­ing card. she also had a vot­ing card here at home wait­ing for her. We in­formed our lo­cal polling sta­tion which checked it out and lo and be­hold she would have been able to vote twice. A few raised eye­brows.

‘she also told us that tu­tors were drum­ming on about vot­ing for Labour. Thank God she can think for her­self and didn’t take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion, but she knew far too many stu­dents that did.’

An­other com­ment warned of guid­ing stu­dents to double-vote: ‘My id­iot Mo­men­tum-sup­port­ing sis­ter (a union em­ployee) has been en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to do this on so­cial me­dia for a while.’

And a third from Can­ter­bury, where there are 40,000 stu­dents at two uni­ver­si­ties and the Tory sir Ju­lian Bra­zier lost his seat by just 187 votes in the 2017 elec­tion, said de­spair­ingly: ‘The stu­dent pop­u­la­tion here is now so large that it de­cides who will be our MP.

‘We have a Labour MP who was voted in by a bunch of stu­dents who (hav­ing since grad­u­ated) don’t even live here any more.’

All this, of course, is just seen as sour grapes by Mo­men­tum which is work­ing all hours to se­cure the stu­dents’ votes from a shabby com­puter-filled of­fice in Fins­bury Park, north Lon­don.

A sign pinned to the wall dis­plays a countdown to the De­cem­ber 12 elec­tion. Ear­lier this month it read: ‘30 days un­til so­cial­ism.’

some of the slick videos, over­seen by the team there and tar­get­ing the youth vote, have topped 19 mil­lion views, com­pared — so Mo­men­tum claims — to 1m chalked up by those from the Tories.

Mo­men­tum has de­nied to the Mail that it is in­volved in en­cour­ag­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties among stu­dent vot­ers, say­ing that Tories who lost their seats in uni­ver­sity towns in 2017 were beaten ‘fair and square’.

A spokesper­son for Mo­men­tum said: ‘Our tar­geted Face­book ad­ver­tis­ing is pay­ing off — so far over 1.36 mil­lion peo­ple aged un­der 35 have regis­tered to vote, nearly twice as many than at this point in the 2017 elec­tion.

CEr­TAInLy, in Uxbridge it is Mo­men­tum and other Left-wing ac­tivists who are at work all hours. In a re­cent speech live-streamed via Face­book to Brunel Uni­ver­sity’s stu­dents’ union, the pres­i­dent of the na­tional Union of stu­dents, Zamzam Ibrahim, said her mem­bers were ‘hun­gry for change’.

no doubt, Boris’s op­po­nent, Ali Mi­lani, brought up on a coun­cil es­tate nearby, agrees, as he tries to oust the Prime Min­is­ter from his seat.

But how did he get on in that dirty wrestling match back in 2013 in Ching­ford, Es­sex?

Well, it’s not clear. For as he ex­plains, it was a scripted com­edy con­test for a youTube video. ‘I have been a wrestler since I was 15,’ he says. ‘But that wrestling match on youTube was all fake, just fun. The Press has since wrongly tried to paint me as the vil­lain po­lit­i­cally.’

This week, he told the Mail he couldn’t re­mem­ber if he was a mem­ber of Mo­men­tum, but he sup­ported them. Al­though he said he thought the chances of stu­dent double-vot­ing in Uxbridge were next to zero, he pre­dicts: ‘At the last elec­tion, the num­ber of stu­dents vot­ing here was in the hun­dreds. This time it should be in the thou­sands.’

And that bodes well for this Ira­nian-born son of a sin­gle mother as he en­ters the ring to bat­tle with Boris John­son.

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