Labour candidate sentenced over electoral fraud

By Jimmy Ellingham

Daljit Singh had pleaded not guilty to electoral fraud charges relating to the 2010 elections. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Daljit Singh had pleaded not guilty to electoral fraud charges relating to the 2010 elections. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Labour party candidate in Auckland's first Super City elections will serve five months' community detention for his involvement in New Zealand's first electoral fraud.

Daljit Singh's bid to avoid a conviction on two charges of using forged documents he was found guilty of was also scuppered today in the High Court at Auckland, where he was also ordered to do 200 hours' community work.

A jury acquitted the 43-year-old on a further 18 charges over a scheme designed to increase his chances of winning a spot on the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board by enrolling people from outside the area in that ward.

Daljit Singh, whose 2010 election profile said he was a New Zealand Sikh Society spokesman and Supreme Sikh Council of New Zealand chairman, applied for a discharge without conviction. This was opposed by the Crown.

"Some level of stigma properly attaches to using forged documents in the context of an election,'' prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said.

Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield said a conviction would end Daljit Singh's employment as a real estate agent and endanger his roles as a justice of the peace, immigration adviser and marriage celebrant.

But Justice Mark Woolford said the consequences of a conviction were not out of proportion to the seriousness of the offending.

Five other men Gurinder Atwal, Mandeep Singh, Virender Singh, Paramjit Singh and Malkeet Singh were also found guilty of using forged documents.

Their lawyers described the effect their prosecution has had on their standing in the community and business interests.

Justice Woolford said the six men falsely changed the addresses of a large number of people on the Electoral Enrolment Centre's website in July and August 2010, so they were living in the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board.

An enrolment centre audit picked up a large number of people listed as living at one address and a large number of forms were downloaded from one IP address.

Nineteen "suspect'' voting packs were sent out and no improper votes were cast.

"This was not victimless offending. The victims are the public at large, who have faith in the democratic process. Your actions have undermined one of the most important processes of the country,'' Justice Woolford told the men.

Daljit Singh did not receive enough votes to be elected to the local board, and was arrested shortly before polling closed.

Justice Woolford said he characterised the offending as "naive'' and born of a desire for Daljit Singh to represent his community.

- APNZ

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