Voters in South Tyneside are being encouraged to help protect their and help prevent electoral fraud.
With local government elections only a month away - and 18 seats being contested in South Tyneside on Thursday May 3 - South Tyneside Council. the Electoral Commission and Crimestoppers are promoting the national Your Vote is Yours Alone campaign.
The campaign aims to help prevent electoral fraud by raising awareness of what constitutes unacceptable pressure to influence - whether or how someone casts their vote.
This could range from intimidation or bribery to impersonating someone else and casting their vote.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “The people of South Tyneside have the right to vote for whoever they want and be confident that their vote counts.
“The impact of electoral fraud is significant as it takes away their right to vote as they want.
“We are pleased to support this campaign and help to raise awareness of the potential for electoral fraud. It is imperative that people know that their vote is theirs alone and that any allegations of electoral malpractice will be treated seriously.”
Electoral fraud offences include:
•Pretending to be someone else to use their vote.
•False application to register to vote.
•Tampering with ballot papers or postal ballot packs.
•Influencing voters through intimidation or threats.
•Influencing voters through bribery or ‘treating’ with gifts.
Ailsa Irvine, director of electoral administration and guidance at the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s important that people know their vote is theirs alone. While proven cases of electoral fraud are rare, it remains a serious crime and those who commit it can be sentenced to time in prison.”
Anyone with information on electoral fraud should contact the police directly or Crimestopprs anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the organisation’s anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
The deadline to register to vote for the local elections is Tuesday 17 April. Those who have not already registered to vote, can apply online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote