Whilst Bolton Liberal Democrats echo calls by the Bolton Tory Chief for an investigation into the highly unusual increase in the postal voter late-list, we would like to express our disappointment at Cllr Greenhalgh and Cllr Thomas for using our Bolton Asian community as a political football.
An increase of 300 people across just 3 areas is undeniably out of the ordinary and we would expect the Returning Officer and Electoral Registrations Officer to work closely with the police to ensure a through investigation of the concerns raised. The postal vote system is an important part of our democratic process allowing more people to engage in democracy. It is particularly useful for the elderly, disabled and parents with small children who would find it difficult to get to a polling system to ensure they have a say on who should be their local representative. Issues arise when postal vote registrations are completed on behalf of the registrant or where postal voters are press-granged into voting for a particular candidate.
Cllr Greenhalgh was right to make his concerns known. Why he felt the need to undermine those concerns by talking demographics, a tactic usually accredited to UKIP, is anyone's guess. Cllr Thomas' comments however are of even more concern. Instead of acknowledging the unusual increase in postal registrants - particular 'en-bloc' - she asks "Is he suggesting that one section of the Crompton community shouldn’t be able to vote by post?". Clearly Cllr Greenhalgh isn't saying this at all and to make suggestions to this end is a tactic of division in itself.
Bolton deserves better than to be dragged into the gutter where communities are played off against each other to win a few votes here and there. We need politicians who are willing to work together to ensure fairness in the democratic process and fight for a more open, honest and accountable Bolton Council.