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Voter Identification: Voting Fraud

Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons on 27th February 2020.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

Whether his Department has made an assessment of the extent to which the use of voter identification will tackle voter fraud.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

The Government are committed to introducing voter ID, as well as extra postal and proxy voting measures, to reduce the potential for electoral fraud in order to give the public greater confidence that our elections are secure. Evaluation by the Electoral Commission and the Cabinet Office of the pilots we ran shows that they were a success, and that public confidence in the electoral system was higher in the areas involved.

Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

The Minister will be unsurprised to hear that I am unimpressed by this illiberal idea. The Electoral Commission says that fraud relating to proxy voting, postal voting, bribery, undue influence or tampering with ballot papers, on which voter ID will have no effect, accounts for three quarters of electoral fraud, so what are we doing about that?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

As I mentioned, we are looking at a range of measures, including ways to improve the security of postal and proxy voting. It is important to recognise that electoral fraud in any form is a crime, which is why we should stand by measures to deal with it. We should be on the side of the victims of that crime, whose voices are taken away—indeed, stolen—by such fraud. That is a good reason why this was in our manifesto, on which, I gently remind my right hon. Friend, we both stood.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Of course those citizens whose voices are taken away because they do not have photographic ID are also victims. As the Minister is concerned about fraudulent votes, can she tell the House how many fraudulent votes were prevented in each of the pilot areas?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

As I have already said, evaluations of the pilots set out a range of data. The hon. Gentleman’s question is not the sort that can easily be answered, as I hope the more cerebral Members of the House will understand. That is because it is hard to put a figure on crime that is deterred. The question Labour Front Benchers really have to answer is: in the dying days of this Labour Front-Bench team, whose side is Labour on, given that the Leader of the Opposition employed a convicted electoral fraudster in his office?

Photo of William Wragg William Wragg Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

May I say what a pleasure it is to see such a well stocked Treasury Bench for Cabinet Office questions, and how much I am looking forward to working with these Ministers? I am sure the feeling is mutual. In the excellent Conservative manifesto, the Government said they would set up a constitution, democracy and rights commission to address these matters. Will my hon. Friend expand on the scope, remit and timing of that commission?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I welcome my hon. Friend to his post as the new Chair of the Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs. I look forward to working with him, as do all the members of the team here this morning. The commission will examine broader aspects of the constitution in more depth and make proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates. Full details will be announced in due course. Careful consideration is required, and I am confident that there will be high-quality discussion of the proposals with the Select Committee.