Electoral Fraud

Constitutional Affairs written question – answered on 30th March 2006.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps (a) the Government and (b) local authorities take to prevent electoral fraud relating to votes by (i) post, (ii) proxy and (iii) polling stations in the names of deceased persons.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

A person will be guilty of the offence of personation if they vote in the name of a deceased person, either by post or in person at a polling station or as a proxy. Individual Returning Officers are responsible for ensuring that elections are conducted in accordance with the requirements of electoral law. The presiding officer at a polling station, acting under the direction of the Returning Officer, may ask a person applying for a ballot paper if they are the person registered in the electoral register for the election, or in the case of a person applying as a proxy, if they are the person whose name appears in the list of proxies for the election, if it is suspected that the voter is attempting to vote in the name of a deceased person. A ballot paper shall not be given to any person required to answer either of the above questions unless they have answered them satisfactorily.

The Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 contain a range of measures that improve the security of postal voting and will be in force at the May 2006 local elections. The following provisions will help to prevent attempts by persons to vote by post in the name of a deceased person.

Electoral administrators are now required to confirm in writing the outcome of postal vote applications.

Postal voters must give a reason for the re-direction of their postal vote.

The closing date for postal vote applications has been moved from six to 11 days before polling day to give administrators more time to check applications.

Electoral administrators may check signatures on postal vote applications against any other signatures they may hold.

The Electoral Administration Bill currently before Parliament contains a number of measures that address electoral fraud, including attempts by persons to vote in the names of deceased persons. The measures include the following.

There will be a new specific offence of applying for a postal or proxy vote as some other person, including a deceased person.

After every election a list of all those who voted by post will be compiled which will enable fraudulent and stolen votes to be identified.

Voters will have to sign for their ballot paper at the polling station to deter fraudsters and allow signatures to be checked if there is suspicion of fraud.

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