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Fermanagh and South Tyrone affected by voter fraud, claims UUP's Elliott

By Allan Preston

Concerns over voter fraud in Northern Ireland have extended to Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the constituency's former MP has said.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott lost his seat to Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew by 875 votes.

After allegations of voter fraud in Foyle, Mr Elliott claimed there had been information taken from polling stations and the improper use of proxy votes in the area.

"In Fermanagh and South Tyrone it's not so much the proxy vote, it's other issues," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He claimed some people had communicated information from polling stations to others outside about who had voted.

"I don't want to get too much into this, as it sounds like sour grapes," he said.

"We've been reporting this for years and obviously nothing's been done about it."

Mr Elliott met with the Chief Electoral Officer Virginia McVea to discuss his concerns, and said agreement was reached on some, but not all, of the matters raised.

"They just don't want to take action. It's like banging your head against a brick wall," he claimed.

Ms McVea said she did not believe voter fraud was a major problem.

"We do not have evidence of widespread abuse," she added.

"People are grouping things together. In terms of people reporting things to me that would be criminal activity, there are a handful of cases I've passed on to the PSNI.

"Mark H Durkan in Foyle has given me evidence in two cases I wasn't aware of, these are very small numbers."

Ms McVea said she had not been made aware of any 'pink slips' - ballot papers which are issued when eligibility to vote is disputed - in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

"Words like 'widespread' have been mentioned, but there's just no evidence being brought to me of that," she said.

"I met with Tom Elliott, but he hasn't brought me any specific instances. Immediate action was taken.

"It's not always possible to resolve all issues as people would like, but the suggestion that no action was taken is not correct."

The PSNI has confirmed it is investigating a number of complaints from the Electoral Office.

Superintendent Karen Baxter said: "We work closely with the Electoral Office and, where information becomes available in relation to criminal activity, we take action."

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