GAPING holes in the electoral system have been laid bare after a man successfully registered five imaginary voters at his two-bedroom flat.

The Electoral Commission and Southend Council have admitted they rely on trust and the threat of prosecution to prevent electoral fraud after a retired market trader from Leigh successfully applied for five voting cards for next month’s the police and crime commissioner election using false names without facing checks.

Terry Davis, 58, who has risked prosecution to expose the ease with which electoral fraud can be committed, said: “It’s like a third world country.”

Southend Council handed over the polling cards without question after Mr Terry filled out his annual canvas form claiming five other people lived at his Leighton Avenue flat. The cards could be used illegally to vote five times in the November 15 election.

Rob Tinlin, chief executive and returning officer for Southend Council, said: “The current electoral registration system relies heavily on trust, but the canvass forms sent out to every household annually make it abundantly clear that you are breaking the law if you provide false information.

“The canvass return in question was dealt with in good faith as there was no obvious reason to challenge it.

“The only reason this individual received five polling cards is because they deliberately falsified the details on their canvass form. In doing so they committed a criminal offence.”