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Electoral fraud review

Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, is to review electoral fraud and make recommendations on what more could be done to tackle it.

The Government claims great strides in improving confidence in the electoral system in recent years, pointing to Individual Electoral Registration to see if those on the electoral register are who they say are.

The review announced by the Cabinet Office will determine whether changes are needed to make the system more secure, and make recommendations as to what those changes should be.

John Penrose, Minister for Constitutional Reform, said: “Most people feel British elections can be trusted to deliver whatever people have voted for. But, in a changing world, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must spot new or growing weaknesses in our election system, and fix them before they turn into a problem like Tower Hamlets. Sir Eric’s work will provide the facts we need to do this properly and, with his years of experience with local government, he’s the perfect man for the job.

Sir Eric Pickles said: “The government’s roll out of Individual Electoral Registration across Great Britain is a significant advance in creating an electoral register that is secure from fraud. It is important that we now look at other parts of the system to identify what more can be done to improve electoral integrity. The British system is among the world’s most trusted democracies, but it is essential that it remains so. The recent election court ruling in Tower Hamlets is a wake-up call that state bodies need to do far more to stamp out corruption and restore public confidence. Financial and electoral sleaze go hand in hand – if a dodgy politician is willing to break election law, they will not hesitate to syphon off taxpayers’ money for their own ends.”

Welcomed

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: ““We welcome the Government’s review of electoral fraud, which should build on the review we published ourselves last year and the recent introduction of Individual Electoral Registration. We hope that they will also take this opportunity to respond to the main recommendation from our 2014 review that voters at polling stations in Great Britain should show proof of their identity as they already do in Northern Ireland. The Commission’s own review of electoral fraud last year showed that when electoral fraud is attempted, or committed, it is by candidates and their supporters – voters are the victims.

“We work with the police and electoral administrators throughout the year to make sure that plans are in place to tackle fraud, particularly in those areas where our research shows they may be more vulnerable to allegations of fraud. We also work with political parties to help them ensure their candidates and supporters campaign within the law.” The commission added that individual electoral registration was something that it was calling for since 2003. The new system means that voters must have their identity verified by providing a date of birth and a national insurance number.

The Commission says that its 2014 review recommended that voters at polling stations in Great Britain should be required to provide proof of their identity, in line with the position in Northern Ireland since 2003.

According to the Government

According to the Government, the levels of reported incidents and allegations of electoral fraud in the UK do not suggest electoral fraud is widespread, but we cannot know how much goes undetected. A call for evidence will be issued as part of the review. Views will be sought from bodies such as the Electoral Commission and the Law Commission as well as those involved in running elections and lawyers and academics with an interest in the field and law enforcement agencies such as the police and Crown Prosecution Service which deal with such allegations and offences among others. The consultation period will last for 8 weeks, closing on October 8.


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