AN INVESTIGATION has begun into a Plymouth politician’s claim that students may have been illegally registered to vote in the recent council election.
Independent Steve Ricketts said he was amazed when numerous students he encountered whilst out canvassing said that they had not registered to vote in Plymouth, yet had appeared on the electoral roll.
Mr Ricketts said an additional 3,000 students were registered to vote in the May 2019 vote in the Drake ward, close to the University of Plymouth.
He now suspects swathes of students had been added to the register “in bulk” without their permission, both in the Drake ward and possibly in the Peverell ward too.
If proven,Mr Ricketts, who lost to Labour’s Chaz Singh by just 13 votes, has stated that he would demand the election is rerun.
Labour controls Plymouth City Council by just six seats and Mr Ricketts said that if students have been illegally registered it “opens a can of worms”.
“When I was knocking on doors I was telling students they were registered, but they didn’t know they were,” Mr Ricketts said. “They had not taken any action and didn’t realise they were registered.”
He said the number of people registered to vote in the Drake ward had risen from about 5,500 to 8,500 between 2017 and 2019.
“It’s crazy what has gone on,” he said.”Who knows what has happened? But I don’t buy that they (students) have done it individually. Someone has done this in bulk in one way or another.
“No one can tell me these students registered themselves, because they simply did not.”
Mr Ricketts, who was previously as city Councillor in the Tory group, said that if students had been registered to vote by someone else the election result should be declared null and void.
“The election was so close, just 13 votes,” he said. “If they have broken the law we need a re-run, especially that with 13 votes you can’t argue it did not make a difference.