Birmingham will soon be the subject of massive national publicity.
But it won?t be the sort of helpful promotional material that city leaders yearn for.
Birmingham is to become synonymous with the mis-use of a postal vote system designed by the Government to be so open to abuse that a High Court judge has said the whole set-up was tantamount to an invitation to commit fraud.
The story that has unfolded during five weeks of trials of the Aston and Bordesley Green election petitions ? the almost total absence of any meaningful system to check the identity of 70,000 people in Birmingham who voted by post at the 2004 council elections ? could have happened in any major UK city.
But it happened here and when Richard Mawrey QC, the trials judge and election commissioner, gives his verdict on April 4 it will be the name of Birmingham that gets dragged through the mud.
In addition to the lack of checks, which election officials could have done nothing about, the city council?s failure to respond appropriately to the massive growth in postal voting has been exposed.
The council?s elections office ran out of ballot boxes and had to ferry postal votes to the count in plastic shopping bags, in itself contravening the Representation of the People Act. There were too few people to count votes and some hired to do so, it is alleged, were not sufficiently trained.
The arrival at the count of votes in bags instead of ballot boxes served only to raise the suspicions of those who sought to prove postal vote fraud.
The trials have been memorable for the unfolding massive scale of what happened in Birmingham in June last year.
It is not disputed that two Labour candidates and four supporters were caught by police in a warehouse at midnight where they were surrounded by 275 postal votes laid out on a table. Whether their conduct was illegal will be a matter for Mr Mawrey to decide.
Nor is it contested that a handwriting expert found that hundreds of signatures on postal votes were likely to be forgeries. Or that the system was rigged so that postal votes were sent to ?safe houses? where they could be filled in.
It is also the case that the elections office allowed to stand ballot papers where original intentions were erased with correcting fluid and fresh crosses substituted ? for Labour, it is claimed. Some unidentified persons even went to the trouble of telephoning the elections office in advance to make sure that it would be alright to change votes. They were told it would.
Postmen delivering postal votes were bribed to hand them over and threatened with violence if they did not. A postbox containing ballot papers was set alight.
All of these things happened in Birmingham and, possibly, other cities and towns.
Whether or not Mr Mawrey finds the Labour six guilty of corrupt and illegal practices, he has already made clear that he will condemn as ?wide open to abuse? the postal voting system.
The Government has been stubbornly reluctant so far to introduce the Northern Ireland-style security checks on postal voting outlined by Mr Mawrey, which would halt most fraud in its tracks, but the Birmingham trials must surely herald major changes in election law.
Whether anything can be done in time for the General Election, and whether Government approval for change will be forthcoming, is another matter.