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Absent Voting: Fraud

Deputy Prime Minister written question – answered on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he is taking to minimise fraud in postal voting for the 2011 elections and referendum; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Postal voters at the polls being held on 5 May 2011 will have been required to provide their signature and date of birth as personal identifiers when they applied for a postal vote. The personal identifiers must be replicated by postal voters when they cast their postal vote, and they will be cross-checked with the original samples to ensure votes are valid. Legislation requires returning officers and counting officers to undertake a minimum of 20% verification of personal identifiers of postal votes which are returned. For the specific purposes of the referendum on the voting system, the chief counting officer has directed that counting officers will check the personal identifiers on 100% of postal votes.

The Electoral Commission, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, has issued guidance to minimise the potential for malpractice in the electoral process.

The Electoral Commission has led work with police forces, political parties and returning officers to raise awareness of integrity issues and strengthen systems to ensure that fraud is detected and prosecuted and to draw attention to existing good practice. There is evidence of effective working between returning officers and local police at recent elections with the police engaged on election issues and committed to the detection of electoral fraud. This approach is continuing for the polls taking place on 5 May.

The Government will continue to keep procedures under review to ensure that the electoral process is secure.

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