Stay vigilant for electoral fraud, says Electoral Commission

4 Dec 2009 02:24 PM

Those who run and police elections need to do all they can to ensure they are well prepared to prevent electoral fraud at the UK Parliamentary general election next year, according to the independent elections watchdog the Electoral Commission.

At a seminar on preventing and detecting electoral fraud organised by the Electoral Commission and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Commission Chief Executive Peter Wardle launched joint Electoral Commission and ACPO guidance on tackling electoral fraud, setting out what everyone involved in elections needs to do, to ensure voters can be confident their vote is safe.

Commenting on the event – attended by police, electoral administrators, the Crown Prosecution Service and Government Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath – Mr Wardle said: “Our figures show that electoral fraud is on the decrease and continues to be relatively rare. But that’s no reason to be complacent. Every single voter expects to be confident that their vote is safe, and we must do all we can to help inspire that confidence. That is why we are launching this guidance today.

“Everyone involved in running elections needs to have plans in place to prevent and detect fraud; the police need to be ready to deal with allegations, with identified liaison officers in place; and we need to be ready to provide support and guidance where needed.”

Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann of ACPO, said: “This seminar is an excellent opportunity for officers from all police forces to come together to discuss issues associated with electoral malpractice. I am very pleased that we will have participants from a range of non-police organisations such as the Crown Prosecution Service, Electoral Administrators, Civil Servants, The Royal Mail and the Electoral Commission. Delegates will leave the seminar knowing how to reduce, deter and detect electoral malpractice.”

The Electoral Commission has also called for the Government to introduce changes to make postal voting more secure. Since 2007, those applying for a postal vote have had to give ‘identifiers’ (their name, signature and date of birth) which returning officers can check when people cast their vote.

The law requires returning officers to check at least 20 percent of postal vote identifiers. Most returning officers follow the Commission’s guidance and check 100 percent, and the Commission has called on the Government to make 100 percent checking mandatory.

For more information contact:

Electoral Commission press office:
Office hours tel: 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours: 07789 920414
Email: press@electoralcommission.org.uk

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. On Wednesday 13th January, the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) will publish a joint report on allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 local and European elections in the United Kingdom. At present, 46 cases of alleged electoral malpractice have been reported across Great Britain.
3. A report on allegations at the May 2008 election in England and Wales (available here) showed that there were 103 cases of alleged electoral malpractice. This is in the context of 4,000 separate elections involving 13,500 candidates and 16 million votes. At the time of publication, one case had resulted in a conviction and nine in a caution. The vast majority - 82 cases - resulted in no further action.
4. The joint ACPO and Electoral Commission Guidance on preventing and detecting electoral malpractice can be found on the Commission’s website: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/guidance