Soaring postal vote may swing marginals

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Indy Politics

A survey by the Independent has revealed that there has been a rise of 10 per cent in the number voting by post in some of the key marginal constituencies where the result of the general election hangs in the balance.

Many voters have already started voting in the General Election by posting their ballot forms to the returning officers over the weekend. Senior Tories said yesterday that they had stepped up the campaigning yesterday specifically to influence early postal voters for the poll on 6 May.

“We think we are better at organising the postal votes than Labour,” said a Tory source. “It is a very important factor in this election.”

Twelve per cent of the UK electorate voted by post at the 2005 election. That was three times higher than at the 2001 general election, but a survey by the Independent of some key marginal seats has shown that the proportion of the electorate voting now accounts for up to 30 per cent of the electorate.

In the Labour marginal of Chorley, regarded as a ‘bellweather’ seat which has followed the winner in every general election since 1964, the proportion voting by post has jumped from 24 per cent in 2005 to 30 per cent.

A total 21,316 voters out of the total electorate of 70,950 have opted for postal votes in the Lancashire seat where Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle is defending a majority of 7,285 against the Tories.

Postal voters in the highly marginal Labour seat of Birmingham Edgbaston where the Tories need a swing of only 2.1 per cent get their ballot forms today (Tues) and they are likely to be targeted by the three main parties for their votes long before polling day.

In other constituencies, many received their postal ballot forms over the weekend and the main parties believe that some will be voting now, rather than wait to be persuaded by Thursday’s third and final round of the televised debate between the three leaders. The Tories have sent out leaflets targeting postal voters yesterday and the Liberal Democrats also said yesterday they regarded the postal voters as 'vital' to their campaign.

In Colne Valley in West Yorkshire, where the Tories need a swing of 1.3 per cent to take the seat from Labour, the proportion of postal voters has risen from 16.6 per cent to 20.8 per cent. Kali Mountford the former Labour MP stood down and the Labour candidate by Debbie Abrahams is defending a notional majority for Labour of just 1,267 but 16,664 have opted for a postal ballot compared to 13,356 in 2005.

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