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MP claims over Wolverhampton post votes

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Labour activists offered to help voters fill in their postal ballots in a Wolverhampton constituency being investigated for electoral irregularities, a West Midlands MP has told Parliament.

Labour activists offered to help voters fill in their postal ballots in a Wolverhampton constituency being investigated for electoral irregularities, a West Midlands MP has told Parliament.

Conservative Paul Uppal, who became the MP for Wolverhampton South West in May after defeating Labour's Rob Marris in the General Election, has raised concerns in the House of Commons about possible postal voting fraud.

Repeating allegations made to him by a constituent, Mr Uppal told Cabinet Office Minister Mark Harper: "In my constituency - I must choose my words carefully, because the case is currently being investigated by the Electoral Commission - 200 more votes were cast than electoral ballots were issued.

"I want to impress on the minister a point that was raised with me recently by a constituent. He said that Labour members were going from door to door asking if people wanted them to help them to fill out postal voting forms."

It can also be revealed today that Mr Uppal and his supporters were concerned about possible irregularities during the election campaign and raised them with Mr Marris.

Mr Uppal told the Express & Star: "We had a suspicion that something was going on and so I spoke to Rob about it.

"He told me that one of his activists had handled postal votes.

"I went straight to the police with that and told them to make their own enquiries on that information, but nothing has come to fruition on that. I don't know what is happening about that."

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A probe is under way to discover why 229 more votes were recorded than there were ballot papers issued in the election.

Wolverhampton City Council is looking into the matter, while the elections watchdog - the Electoral Commission - has demanded an explanation of the discrepancy, which remains unexplained, five months on since the nation last went to the polls.

Labour, Tory and Lib Dem candidates were aware of the discrepancy at the count, but agreed to accept the result as it was not enough to affect Mr Uppal's 691 majority.

Mr Uppal alerted Mr Harper to the probe yesterday as he unveiled Government plans to speed up the introduction of compulsory individual voter registration in Britain to tackle fraud. The MP said: "I ask the Minister to take on board my deep concern about postal voting fraud. Although I welcome individual registration, I fear that it will not wholly tackle that problem, to which I have referred before."

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The minister said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. But he added: "You have raised the issue of why it is important to make the accuracy of the electoral register more secure. We intend to deal with the public perception as well as the reality of the fraudulent registrations that have occurred.

"As I said in my statement, a third of the public are worried about the security of registration in our voting system, and it is important to the maintaining of confidence in our democracy for us to deal with those real concerns."

Last month, the Express & Star also revealed that a register containing the names and addresses of up to 500 voters in the city's Park ward had gone missing. It was also marked to say whether or not they received a ballot paper during the General Election campaign.

Park ward falls in the same Wolverhampton South West constituency that is under investigation for electoral irregularites.

The missing register relates to homes in streets such as Compton Road, Richmond Road, Linden Lea and York Avenue. Every ward has between eight and 10 marked registers.

West Midlands Police has previously confirmed the force received an allegation concerning postal voter fraud. The force said it was not investigating any further.

By London reporter Sunita Patel

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