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Legal challenge to UK postal voting system could delay May 5 elections

[JURIST] A legal challenge to the UK postal voting system [Royal Mail guide] set for Thursday could delay the scheduled May 5 national elections [10 Downing Street release]. John Hemming, deputy leader of Birmingham city council, is filing the High Court challenge, alleging that the postal voting system fails to protect the right to a secret ballot guaranteed by the Human Rights Act 1998 [official text]. Postal voting became a focus of attention in Birmingham in 2004 after six Labour councillors were accused of abusing the postal ballot system; a judge investigating the matter last month derisively labelled postal voting "an open invitation to fraud" [BBC report]. The UK Royal Mail [official website] estimates that nearly 6.5 million individuals will vote via the postal ballot system, representing nearly 15% of expected voter turnout. If the High Court rules in Hemming's favor, it is unlikely that sufficient steps could be taken by May 5 to ensure the validity of all postal votes, requiring either a delay in the election or a decision to remove postal balloting as a method for voting. AFP has more.

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