British police probe election fraud claims before polling day

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Several British police forces said Wednesday they were investigating allegations of electoral fraud as polling day loomed.

Investigators were probing claims in London, around the Manchester area in northwest England and in Yorkshire, northern England, as voters geared up to cast their ballots Thursday.

The claims involve alleged fraudulent postal voting and the false registration of voters' addresses.

In London, the Metropolitan Police said 23 allegations of election irregularities across 12 districts of the capital were under investigation.

"All complaints and allegations received will be assessed, and where appropriate, will be thoroughly investigated in close liaison with the (prosecution service) and other relevant agencies," said a spokesman

In the Manchester area, police said they had received reports of breaches of the electoral code of practice in four areas.

Police in Yorkshire said they were investigating three allegations of fraudulent postal voting, although no arrests had yet been made.

Britain's electoral commission said extra security checks to prevent voter fraud were introduced in 2006 and were now in place for the first time for a general election.

Registration officers have new powers to check that people registering to vote are who they claim and, where appropriate, remove them from the electoral register.

Anyone registering to vote by post has to provide their date of birth and signature so this can be checked when their vote is cast.

© 2010 AFP

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