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Allegations of voting fraud: new checks are working

Commenting on recent reports in the media about allegations of voting fraud Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said:

Everyone’s vote needs to be carefully protected, and all of us involved in ensuring these elections are well-run take the security of every vote very seriously indeed.

Extra security checks were introduced in 2006, so this is the first time they’ve been in place for a general election. Registration officers have new powers to check people registering to vote are who they claim and, where appropriate, remove them from the electoral register. Anyone registering to vote by post also has to provide their date of birth and signature so this can be checked when their vote is cast.

Recent reports show these checks in action, with Registration Officers and the police aiming to catch potentially fraudulent applications before polling day. The number of reports of allegations should also be seen in the context of the total number of votes – at the 2005 general election over twenty-seven million votes were cast”

The Electoral Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely; meanwhile, anyone who has evidence of fraud taking place should report it to the police. We all need to remain vigilant.”

The changes to improve the safety of postal voting since the last general election include:

No one can apply for a postal vote without giving their signature and date of birth.  These are then checked before postal votes are counted.
Electoral Registration Officers have got new powers to check applications for postal votes against other council records to ensure the applicant is genuine.

Every police force has a specialist in election issues who can ensure that concerns with the voting process are properly investigated.

The Commission’s joint report with the police on the June 2009 elections in Great Britain showed they were free from major allegations of electoral fraud, and no-one challenged the result of any elections on the grounds of malpractice. Over 22 million votes were case in those elections; there were a total of 48 cases of alleged malpractice, only half of which required further action.


For further information please contact:
Electoral Commission Press office

020 7271 0529 / 0527

email: press@electoralcommission.org.uk 

outside office hours 07789 920414

Notes to editors:

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
  2. The changes to postal voting in Great Britain were introduced in the Electoral Administration Act (2006)
  3. Different rules on electoral registration apply in Northern Ireland
  4. Electoral Commission and police joint report on the 2009 elections: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/83702/063Allegations-Report-final.pdf
  5. The Electoral Commission website has a range of guidance for people working on elections including police officers and electoral administrators. Visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk.

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