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Postal Voting

Oral Answers to Questions — Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th October 2005.

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Photo of David Kidney David Kidney Labour, Stafford 2:30 pm, 18th October 2005

What further measures she proposes to put in place to prevent fraud in postal voting.

Photo of David Kidney David Kidney Labour, Stafford

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is important to reassure the public that voting by post is secure and reliable? Will she confirm that she will take care not to impose so many restrictions that the bureaucracy deters people from applying for a postal vote and voting by post?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

We want to ensure that people have the choice of voting by post, which is an increasingly popular way of voting. However, we must also make it absolutely clear that security in postal voting is not an option. To achieve that, we need robust legal provisions—we shall improve them in the Electoral Administration Bill, which I shall bring before the House next week—and good support for the operational activity to deter and prevent fraud on the ground. We shall achieve both those things.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General

The greatest level of security would come from individual voter registration, backed up by national insurance numbers. Why will the Government not countenance that?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The hon. Gentleman is not right to say that we will not countenance it. In the Electoral Administration Bill, we are making provision to pilot the testing of individual identifiers and signatures. The right way to proceed is on an evidence base. We need to achieve three things to ensure the legitimacy of democracy. The first is that everyone should have access to a vote, which means everyone who is eligible being on the register. The second is that everyone should want to vote, which relates to high turnouts and to the point made by my hon. Friend Mr. Kidney about postal voting. The third is that nobody should fiddle the vote. We need to focus on all three, and to have measures that will work across the board. That is what we shall be doing.