Elections: Slough

Justice written question – answered on 30th April 2008.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department plans to take in response to the recommendations of the Electoral Commissioner in the recent electoral court case in Slough.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

We have noted the findings and comments in the judgment of the election court. Since 2005, the Government have introduced a range of new measures to strengthen the integrity of our electoral system, and there have been very few proven incidents of fraud since the new measures were brought into force. They include:

Electoral administrators write to everyone who has applied for a postal vote acknowledging receipt of their application and confirming the outcome—this will alert people to any applications for postal votes made falsely on their behalf.

Postal vote applicants have to specify a reason if they want their postal vote to be sent to an address other than that at which they are registered.

Administrators get more time to check postal vote applications because people have to apply for a postal vote a minimum of 11 working days before the close of poll (the previous minimum was six days).

New requirement for electors to provide personal identifiers (signature and date of birth) if they wish to have a postal vote. The identifiers must be replicated by elector when they subsequently cast their postal vote, and will be cross-checked with the original samples to ensure the postal vote is valid.

New offence of falsely applying for a postal or proxy vote.

After every election a list of all those who voted by post is published which will enable individuals to check that their vote was counted. In an investigation the police will be able to check up with any individual whether they did actually vote by post or whether their vote was stolen.

New criminal offence of supplying false information (or failing to supply information) to the electoral registration officer at any time.

Strengthened offence of undue influence, which will make it easier to prosecute, even if the undue influence does not affect the way someone votes.

Clear new powers for electoral administrators to cross check applications to register to vote against other information the council holds.

We will take account of the election court's judgement in any further development on electoral registration and postal voting processes and legislation.

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