19:50Election officials in Birmingham say the wrong candidate was declared the winner of a seat for the Kingstanding Ward in last Thursday's Council Election. But the declared result can only be changed through a court action called an "election petition".
If there is an election petition it will be the second time in Birmingham in two years. That may be a record, as election petitions are fairly rare.
The 2004 election was marred by vote rigging. The court overturned the results in two wards. Judge Mawrey condemned the postal voting system as "hopelessly insecure" and found that at least 1,500 votes had been cast fraudulently in the city. He also criticised the then returning officer saying that faced with the overwhelming number of postal vote applications she had "thrown the rule book out of the window".
When the result of last weeks election was declared it seemed that the far right BNP candidate had won one of the Kingstanding seats with 2310 votes. Later, Birmingham's current returning officer issued a statement saying this candidate actually only received 1329 votes, putting her in third place. The other ten candidates had also been declared as having more votes than they actually received.
It seems that more than 1500 ballot papers must have been mistakenly counted twice over. This came to light when someone realised that there simply were not enough ballot papers to account for the total number of votes counted. According to the statement the total number of votes cast in the election was actually 9265 but the number apparently counted was 12329. So somehow 3064 phantom votes were allocated among the 11 candidates with the lion's share, 981 going to the BNP candidate.
Birmingham Council has expressed willingness to do all it can to assist any candidate who wishes to do so to present an election petition.