Ashford landlord sentenced after trying to rig election

An Ashford landlord has been sentenced to a total of 12 months in prison after forging the signatures of his tenants to try and win an election.

Turkish businessman Cengizhan Cerit, known locally as Jem Cerit tried to rig the election in Beaver ward, Ashford, in November 2011.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the 47-year-old delivered a bundle of 200 postal vote applications containing false or forged signatures to the Ashford Borough Council offices the day before the deadline for applications was due.

He was found guilty of three charges of electoral fraud by Canterbury Crown Court on Tuesday 5 February and sentenced today.

Jem Cerit knowingly submitted forged nomination papers to enable him to stand for election in Ashford. He also knowingly submitted forged postal vote applications in a bid to secure a seat in the Beaver ward of Ashford. This is a man who was determined to get involved in local politics at whatever cost but his disregard for the British voting system and democracy caught up with him, thankfully before he ever got into public office.I’m pleased with today’s sentence and hope it sends a warning to others that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.

– Investigating officer Detective Constable Stuart Champion, Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate

The fraud stood at the heart of democracy and tried to corrupt a legitimate election process. You used tenants’ names within the ward to try and steal the election for yourself and had the plans succeeded and applications granted you could have voted for yourself. That would have seen legitimate voters being robbed of their votes.

– Judge Her Honour Adele Williams