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Tower Hamlets to debut ballot count security measures

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Unprecedented security measures will be introduced in a bid to ensure the integrity of Tower Hamlets LBC by-elections being held this week.

The council says it will become the first in the country to introduce use an automated photographic entry system to manage attendance at two ballot counts on Thursday.

Tower Hamlets LBC said its photographic entry system, developed in partnership with elections software provider Xpress, will “bolster security and increase efficiency”, building on “already robust electoral processes” in place for this week’s by-elections.

In 2015, an election court found former Tower Hamlets elected mayor Lutfur Rahman (Tower Hamlets First) guilty of two counts of corrupt practices and one count of illegal practices in the 2014 mayoral contest.

The revelations came less than six months after Tower Hamlets became the subject of central government intervention after a report by auditor PwC found weak governance had led the council to fail to comply with its best value duty. The intervention formally ended in October last year.

The by-elections are being held following the resignations of Shadwell councillor Ruhul Amin (Lab) and Lansbury councillor Muhammad Harun (Lab).

Will Tuckley, chief executive and returning officer at Tower Hamlets, said: “We work closely with police and other partners to make sure our residents can cast their votes freely and securely, and we have robust measures in place for both polling stations and ballot counting.

“This includes using new security software to manage access to the by-election counts – and we’re the first local authority in the country to introduce these enhanced security measures.

“We take our responsibilities very seriously and our new software is just one example of Tower Hamlets Council taking every possible step to make sure these by-elections are carried out in the spirit of free and fair democracy.”

Twelve councils will participate in a further round of voter identification pilots at May’s local elections.

Tower Hamlets is not part of the pilot.

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