The Council of Europe is to investigate the UK's postal voting system in relation to alleged human rights violations. The initial investigation will be "to assess whether or not electoral fraud in the UK merits the opening of the Assembly's monitoring procedure".
The Council of Europe is responsible for upholding the European Convention of Human Rights and its Protocols, which oblige its 46 member states to "hold free elections ... which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature".
The fact-finding team of the Council of Europe will begin its visit to the UK in December by visiting London to meet officials and may also visit Birmingham and Coventry. In Birmingham, the Election Commissioner upheld allegations of postal fraud relating to six seats won by Labour in the ballot of 10 June last year. The results were declared void and the polls in two wards had to be re-run.
The council can require Britain to take action to protect human rights and the country may be placed under constant monitoring. Italy is under similar investigation because of Silvio Berlusconi’s control of electronic media. A decision is expected in the spring of 2007.