Ministry of Justice
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Government committed to preventing and reducing electoral fraud

Government committed to preventing and reducing electoral fraud

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE News Release (007/08) issued by The Government News Network on 18 January 2008

Birmingham peer and Government Minister Lord Hunt today reiterated the Government's firm commitment to tackling electoral fraud and misconduct. He stressed the Government, the Electoral Commission and the Police all had vital roles to play in preventing and detecting election fraud.

Welcoming a new handbook and guidance produced by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) at a seminar in Birmingham, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice said:

"I endorse this initiative wholeheartedly. Despite the great strides already made, we are committed to working with the police, ACPO and the Electoral Commission to stop electoral fraud and deliver secure elections.

"The Governance of Britain Green Paper aims to invigorate our democracy and encourage civic participation. But democracy is not only about having the choice to vote but also about having confidence in the integrity of the system. It is absolutely critical that people have confidence that their vote will be cast and counted fairly.

"Measures to improve security have been introduced such as the requirement for all people applying to vote by post or proxy to provide their signature and date of birth.

"Alongside the introduction of stronger election offences, this represents a comprehensive set of legislative changes that have improved security and confidence in our electoral system."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Electoral Commission and ACPO guidance will be available on the Electoral Commission website http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk

2. For full details of the effects of the Electoral Administration Act visit:
http://www.dca.gov.uk/legist/electadmin.htm

3. The 'Governance of Britain' Green Paper was published on 3 July 2007.

4. The measures to improve security and confidence at the polls, which came into force January 2007, include:

* New offences for supplying false information and for falsely applying for a postal or proxy vote.

* Provision of signatures and dates of births for postal vote applications which enable checks to be carried out.

* The introduction of a marked register of postal votes received.

5. Other key changes were:

* Strengthening the offence of undue influence and making it effective even where influence has not led to any action being taken.

* Improving the security of ballot papers by replacing stamping instruments with a security mark and barcodes on ballots to help validate ballot papers and with the administration of lost or stolen postal votes and replacement ballot papers.

* Allowing accredited observers into polling stations to observe the electoral process and other parts of the process, such as the count.

* Increasing the length of time available for the police to carry out investigations into electoral fraud.

* Secrecy warnings to accompany postal and proxy voting papers to deter anyone from unlawfully attempting to influence another person's vote.

6. These regulations form part of the Electoral Administration Act (2006). It aims to tackle four areas at the core of a healthy democracy by improving access, improving confidence, extending openness and transparency of party financing and maintaining the professional delivery of elections.

http://www.justice.gov.uk

ENDS

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