Foyle ‘vote theft’ victim calls for recount

The SDLP's Mark Durkan watches as the votes are counted out in the Foyle Arena on Thursday night
The SDLP's Mark Durkan watches as the votes are counted out in the Foyle Arena on Thursday night

A Londonderry man who said his vote was “stolen” in the general election believes the votes should be recounted in the Foyle constituency amid electoral fraud concerns.

The election was decided by a margin of just 169 votes.

Patrick Doherty, a 68-year-old, said he turned up at a polling station in the Lenamore area with his driving licence and polling card, only to be told his vote had already been cast.

“I was disgusted so I was, I still am,” he said.

Mr Doherty, who told the News Letter he planned to vote for Sinn Fein, said he places a high value on the right to vote because of his experience with the civil rights campaign in Londonderry.

“I’m 68. I was on every march for the right to vote. I took part in every civil rights march. Since I was able to vote I’ve voted every time. It’s not right to steal anybody’s vote.”

He added: “I’d love to know who done it. Let’s be honest here, they should go through it and count up all the votes again. They need to do something.”

The PSNI, meanwhile, has confirmed they are investigating reports of electoral fraud. The Electoral Office has also confirmed they have passed details to police for investigation but said the available evidence does not suggest “widespread” electoral fraud.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan, a party colleague and nephew of the defeated SDLP MP Mark Durkan, has said in recent days that fraud by voter imperationation appears to have been “co-ordinated”.

His concerns were expressed in person to the Electoral Office on Tuesday and he said he plans to meet with the PSNI to discuss their investigation this week.

Another Foyle MLA, the DUP’s Gary Middleton, has now also thrown his weight behind calls for a “robust” investigation into the possibility of electoral fraud.

He said: “There needs to be a robust and rigorous investigation. In the days since the election numerous people have come forward and said they turned up to vote to find out their vote had already been cast.”

He added: “We have also seen a very large increase in the number of proxy votes in a small period of time – and specifically we have seen that in predominantly nationalist areas.

“We are not trying to take away from proxy voting for genuine reasons but we have seen people come forward who don’t even know who the person is who is supposed to have voted for them.”