Policy Exchange - Electoral Commission is not fit for purpose, says think tank
The administration of elections in the UK remains dangerously inefficient and seriously open to fraud according to a new study which accuses the body responsible for overseeing fair and democratic election in the UK as failing to focus on its basic regulatory purpose.
Electoral Omission points to a sharp decline in the quality of the UK’s electoral registers. In 2005, there were approximately 7 million errors on the electoral register compared to between 13 and 15.5 million in 2011 and 2014. The Electoral Commission’s own data revealed:
- 8.5million individuals entitled to vote (18%) were not included on the registers for their current addresses;
- The register included over 6.5million names of persons who were no longer resident at the registered address, had died or has been mistakenly or fraudulently included.*
- When Northern Ireland is included the error total rises by over 600,000.
Authored by one of the UK’s leading constitutional experts, Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, the paper concludes that there remains within the various bodies responsible for electoral administration a culture of complacency and denial. The paper says the Electoral Commission has taken few meaningful steps to address the recommendation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life that it focus on its job as a regulator rather than attempting to influence policy on wider constitutional matters such as legislation of the funding of political parties, or attempting to promote voter engagement.
It points to recent examples of continued regulatory failure:
- The Electoral Commission allowed Britain First (a breakaway group of former BNP activists) to use the description ‘Remember Lee Rigby’ on ballot papers for the elections in May to the European Parliament.
- The mayoral and council election of 22 May in the London borough of Tower Hamlets saw greatly delayed vote counts, multiple complaints and a cross-party election petition. Investigative journalists gave alarming reports of allegedly fraudulent voter registration yet the Electoral Commission’s system of performance indicators was of the highest quality.0
The report also points to indications that voting fraud is a widespread problem including:
- The number of proven cases of serious electoral crime that led to convictions. Since 2001 at least 37 people have received jail sentences for electoral crimes in 18 different cases.
- Thousands of fraudulent electoral registrations and votes are involved. Reported offences in Ashford, Blackburm, Bradford and Slough each involved hundreds of electors while the total of fraudulent votes in the elections in three Birmingham wards in 2004 was two to three thousand.
- There should be targets for the maximum number of omissions and errors in the electoral register as well as an annual check to measure the accuracy of the register.
- A small council tax rebate – rather than a fine - to encourage people to complete and return voter registration forms.
- The Electoral Commission should focus on election administration alone rather than dissipate its energies on policymaking advice or broadening voter engagement
- A new, specialist standards unit should take over enforcement of election administration responsibilities to ensure the Electoral Commission is doing its job.
- The law should be reformed to make it easier to bring election petitions in cases of alleged electoral fraud
Latest News from
NIESR Monthly Wage Tracker: Pay growth appears to be stabilising at around 3½% per annum20/03/2019 13:38:00
Pay growth appears to be stabilising at around 3½ per cent per annum.
IPPR - Calls for a ‘Just Transition Commission’ to Kick Start North’s Low Carbon Revolution19/03/2019 13:35:00
A body to ensure that energy workers in the north of England are able to make the most of a “clean energy revolution” should be established as soon as possible, according to a leading think-tank.
War on offshore financial centres undermines competition & tramples on rights to privacy, IEA report says19/03/2019 12:35:00
IEA release report on offshore financial centres
'A hidden crisis in hospitals up and down the country' - The King's Fund responds to NHS combined performance data19/03/2019 11:35:00
Deborah Ward, Senior Analyst at The King’s Fund, commented on recent monthly NHS performance figures
Patchwork safety net of food banks, fuel banks and other essential services struggling to meet needs of poorest, says IPPR19/03/2019 10:35:00
Essential service providers could be better coordinated to meet the demand created by welfare cuts and the universal credit rollout
IEA - Christopher Snowdon responds to new consultation on junk food19/03/2019 09:35:00
Christopher Snowdon responds to new consultation on junk food
Adam Smith Inst - Half marks for tariff reductions14/03/2019 11:35:00
While the government's 'modest liberalisation of tariffs' (in their words) is a step in the right direction for consumers and producers, but in bowing to the agricultural lobby the government would penalise Brits that dare to buy food from overseas.
JRF - Government not tackling injustice of poverty in the UK14/03/2019 10:35:00
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has responded to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement in which no action was taken to end the benefits freeze despite it sweeping many families deeper into poverty.