Absent Voting

Electoral Commission Committee written question – answered on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2014, Official Report, column 411W, on absent voting, what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the reasons for the high levels of satisfaction with postal voting revealed by its 2010 post-election research; and whether that research was taken into account when it arrived at its decision to propose limiting the handling of postal ballot application forms.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

The Electoral Commission informs me that its 2010 post-election public opinion survey found that the most popular reason postal voters gave for choosing to vote by post related to convenience: 58% said it was more convenient for them than voting in person, and 12% that they would have otherwise have had difficulty getting to their polling station on polling day.

The same survey also found that 95% of postal voters found voting by post to be either very or fairly convenient and 97% said they found it easy to complete and return their postal vote.

The Electoral Commission's recommendation to restrict the involvement of campaigners in the absent vote administration process was based on a range of evidence, including qualitative public opinion research into perceptions of electoral fraud.

This research with the public found that restricting the handling of completed postal vote application forms and postal ballot packs by political parties, candidates, canvassers and campaigners was felt to be a worthwhile policy change that would bring the system into line with their expectations. It also found that people felt this move would increase the overall security of elections without having a negative impact on voter participation (either for themselves or vulnerable electors).

Findings from this research are available on the Commission's website at:

www.electoralcommission.org.uk/find-information-by-subject/electoral-fraud/electoral-fraud-vulnerabilities-review

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