Inquiry into foreign voter registration fraud
9 August 2006
BRUSSELS — Members of the immigrant community have tried to fraudulently increase the number of foreign voter registrations for the October local elections in the Flemish municipality of Zele.
The announcement was made by the Dendermonde public prosecution office after a suspect was questioned on Monday night. The suspect has confessed his role in the case.
Initial investigations gave definite indications on Monday that fraud was at work in at least 17 foreign voter registrations.
Foreigners who were registered as a voter were allegedly not aware or not completely aware of their application to vote at Belgium’s local elections.
In other cases, people who allowed themselves to be registered were not official resident at the designated address.
No problems were detected with 34 registrations. In 30 other cases, it is not yet clear whether fraud was committed.
Justice authorities are now investigating the possible involvement of other suspects, news agency Belga reported on Tuesday.
“It appears that people from the migrant community have driven up the number of registrations,” the public prosecution office said.
“On one side by urging people to register, but the public prosecution does not have a problem with that. On the other side by committing fraud and that is a criminal offence.”
In Zele, some 39.66 percent of non-EU eligible voters registered for the elections, much higher than the 8.33 percent average recorded across Flanders.
Foreign voters had until 31 July to register. On Friday 28 July, there were just 14 registrations in Zele, but another 80 registrations were suddenly recorded on the last day.
It is not yet certain who would benefit from fraudulent voter registrations. Given the small number of registrations, the number of votes would not have influenced the election.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news