Police have launched a probe into allegations of electoral fraud, after fake leaflets pretending to be from Kingston Lib Dems were circulated in marginal ward where the party was defeated by just 146 votes.
Hat Trick productions ran into hot water after setting up a spoof but official looking polling station immediately outside a real polling station.
A number of voters have said that they were taken in by fake leaflets supposedly from the Lib Dems, decided not to vote Lib Dem as a result and voted Conservative in protest.
The Daily Express reports:
Nick de Bois cross-checked the names of constituents seeking his help to stay in the UK and found 21 out of a sample 100 had signed up for voting rights.
The Tory backbencher is calling on ministers to tighten registration rules, claiming it is harder to get a library card than a ballot paper…
The MP said some people get on the electoral roll just to obtain credit cards or commit financial fraud.
The Leeds Labour Party is being investigated by the police for over claims it has broken the law against issuing imitation poll cards.
The BNP candidate standing for elected mayor of Liverpool has been arrested by Merseyside Police.
Scotland Yard has been asked by the Electoral Commission to investigate “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud ahead of next week’s polling for London Mayor.
Following a referral by Cardiff Council’s Electoral Registration Officer, the police are investigating one of the city’s Labour council candidates over allegations that he provided a false home address for use on the ballot papers.
We are left in a world that is like trying to run an election by regulating hansom cabs and telegrams. They are of a long-gone age and elections needs to be run in a way that reflects the modern world. So too with postal votes: polling day is no longer polling day for increasing numbers of people and the way we run elections should react to that.
Via a slightly odd story in the Daily Telegraph comes the news that Nick Clegg is pushing for the current legal penalties for not returning electoral registration forms to be continued when individual electoral registration is introduced.
The controversy over the Government’s view that there should be no freepost election addresses for Police and Crime Commissioner elections has caught the headlines so far, but there is something far worse in the details of the draft legislation. Put simply: having considered having national expenditure limits for the elections, the Conservative ministers in the Home Office have decided to have …
Despite the relatively low level of allegations, 36% of people believe electoral fraud is a ‘very big’ or ‘fairly big’ problem. These people, however, were more likely to have seen stories in the media about fraud…
Electoral Commission warns government over refusal to provide election freepost to Police Commissioner candidates
The Electoral Commission has criticised the government for opposing the use of freepost election addresses in this year’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Data matching may have the potential to improve electoral registers in Great Britain, but more work needs to be done, the Electoral Commission has advised the UK Government.
This week the Office of National Statistics published its latest round-up of electoral registration figures for the UK, showing a 0.6% increase in 2011 for the total number of entries on the electoral register.
Sensible news from the government yesterday with talk of modification to its plans for individual electoral registration in the light of comments made during its consultation.
Asked by Liberal Democrat peer Lord (Chris) Rennard whether there would be changes to the government approach as set out in the earlier White Paper when we see legislation on the issue soon, Clegg had the following to say…
A new academic study of 99 people suggests the choice of building for a polling station can have an impact on people’s political outlooks.
The Electoral Commission’s Peter Wardle has highlighted the inconsistent and potentially confusing rules for election addresses for Police Commissioner and City Mayor candidates.
Many of the differences between American and British election campaigns are not the result of American campaigners having good ideas the British should copy, but rather are the result of four key legal differences between the two countries.
Whether or not someone lives in private rented property is one of the most important factors in predicting whether or not they will be on the electoral register, new research by the Electoral Commission has found.
The Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011 is now in force and the sorts of calculations that were relevant during previous political excitements are no longer relevant. A Prime Minister can no longer simply call an early general election because they want to.
The Electoral Commission has a new consultation paper out, returning to an old issue: when should election counts be held?
In amongst the debate over individual electoral registration, one question has been whether it should remain a legal obligation to complete registration forms sent out by the local council. But how meaningful is the current legal obligation?
One aspect of electoral registration, and the potential problems with making registration voluntary, is the knock-on effect on credit and social mobility. That was the aspect which Liberal Democrat peer (Lord) Chris Rennard took up during a debate in the Lords this week.
The Electoral Commission has called on Parliament to modify the Localism Bill to delay the proposed start date for local referendums on Council Tax levels, neighbourhood development plans and local authority structures (e.g. elected Mayors) from Spring 2012 to Spring 2013.
The Electoral Commission has promised to look at the question of when elections should be counted.
Last week, the Electoral Commission published its report into the administration of the May’s AV referendum. Despite the high political temperatures during the campaign, the administration got little criticism at the time and so the report rightly reflects that. However, amongst the details are some important pointers to issues that are likely to come up at future elections.
The Government’s planned introduction of Individual Voter Registration was to be the subject of a special ‘opposition day’ debate in the House of Commons this week. Labour MPs are getting extremely excitable about the changes, shrouding what are really partisan fears in a cloak of concern about democracy. In the event, their debate was cancelled because of other urgent business, but the issue certainly isn’t going away.
For all of their recent hollering, legislation to introduce Individual Electoral Registration was actually passed by Labour in 2009. They accepted then that the present system of household registration is inadequate and inaccurate. It leads to entries being left on the register when they shouldn’t be there, and it disconnects most voters from the process by relying on a single ‘head of household’. It also undermines the compulsory nature of registration. Some Electoral Registration Officers say it is difficult to establish who is responsible for registering people in any given property, unless it is a single person household.
Individual registration should ensure everyone has to engage with the process, and return their own form. Since all parties recognise that this is a long overdue step in reducing electoral fraud, and the perception of it, it is a pity the Opposition are now making such hysterical statements about getting on with the job.
However, there are defects with the Government’s proposals. Their initial ‘white paper’ on reform suggested that electoral registration should in future be voluntary. There would remain an obligation on households – presumably with the same defects as now – to return a “Household Enquiry Form” asking who was there, but it would then be optional for each individual to register. Electoral Registration Officers would have no “stick” with which to encourage potential electors to put themselves on the electoral roll. his would have led to a less complete register, and the independent Electoral Commission said so in its response to the consultation.
Nick Clegg is clearly listening on this point, and has already said in the House of Commons that he is minded to change the proposals to reflect these concerns. The Parliamentary Policy Committee I co-chair has made a detailed submission to the consultation, highlighting the proposed ‘opt-out’ as a key flaw in the draft legislation. It looks like Liberal Democrat pressure may now succeed in getting it dropped. We would like to see a new legal obligation follow for individuals themselves to return their form, so everyone gets on to the electoral roll in future.
Electoral registration is about far more than the right to vote. It affects the functionality of the jury system, and the principle that people are tried by their peers. If only a select group chose to register (it might be disproportionately the white middle classes), you might find suspects tried not by their peers but by those whose economic and social position is generally considerably more advantageous.
Beyond the state, referencing agencies use the electoral roll as the basis for offering credit, without which many of the most vulnerable, low income households might not be able to spread the cost of the more expensive items – furniture, washing machines, and so on – that everyone has to buy at some point.
Removal of the “opt-out” is not the only safeguard we want to see put into the legislation on IER. To prevent any largescale drop off in the number of people who are registered, we want to see a full annual canvass carried out in 2014. There could and should be more opportunties for ‘hard-to-reach’ groups to be registered, as they encounter the state in other aspects of their lives, whether through schools and colleges or through the benefits system. There is clearly room for considerable improvement in registering service voters too, espeically since it is obviously easy to know who and where they are. And the Government also needs to look again at whether the first register based entirely on individual registration – due after the 2015 election – is the right one on which to predicate the next boundary review.
I am confident that a great many of these safeguards can and will be built into the new system. Labour MPs are simply wrong to say that there is some nefarious ploy at play here, and that the Liberal Party – responsible for extending the franchise in the first place – would conspire to exclude the poorest voters from the register. That would clearly be unacceptable, and no Liberal Democrat will stand by while it happens.
When we do secure changes to the legislation, it won’t be thanks to partisan rantings on the part of Labour MPs. They resisted the principled case for individual registration for a full six years after the Electoral Commission first recommended it in 2003, and now they want to slow it down even further. All because they seem to believe that Labour voters just won’t register. But with a compulsory system, and new avenues of access to the electoral roll, there is no reason to suppose we shouldn’t be able to ensure everyone keeps their vote.
Either way, if any political party approaches this issue with a view simply to protecting its own interests, rather than the broader democratic interest, ministers are unlikely to listen. Our Committee is meeting Mark Harper, the Minister ‘under’ Nick Clegg with responsibility for Political and Constitutional Reform, to discuss the Government’s white paper next week. Let us know if there is anything you’d like us to raise with him.
Together, we can achieve what Labour failed to put in place: an electoral register which is both accurate and complete. Doing that doesn’t require delay, it requires innovation and action, and there’s no reason not to start now.
Mark Williams is Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Political and Constitutional Reform Parliamentary Policy Committee, and MP for Ceredigion
Over on the Total Politics blog, Lib Dem Voice’s Mark Pack has been summarising the state of play with plans to move to individual electoral registration.