Postal Voting

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Stolen Votes

Stolenvotes.org.uk is another website dedicated to higlighting the problems with postal voting; there's plenty of good archival stuff there. I will post some more specific posts in the near future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Commons committees differ over electoral registration rules

MPs on the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the ODPM Committee have released a report which includes suggesting stricter registration - instead of registering a whole household at once (which means a householder can in theory register non-existent members - they can then use thea postal vote to send false votes from these members), each individual in a householder would register separately; such registrations would be backed up with other databases such as the postal service.

This is a welcome step, but sadly the report only outlines a set of options rather than a specific recommendation, and the two chairs of each committee have conflicting opinion. Andrew Bennett (Labour) from the ODPM committee advocates adoption of individual registration as soon as possible, while his Constitutional Affairs counterpart Alan Beith (Lib Dem) is fiercely defending the status quo:

“On the basis of the evidence we heard I do not believe that a move to individual registration should be undertaken until measures likely to increase registration have been put in place and proved effective. There is no point in making so fundamental a change if the effect would be to reduce the proportion of the eligible population who are registered to vote.”

Mr Beith's comments suggest he is willing to pursue high turnout at any cost; he doesn't back up his implicit assertion that a switch to individual registration would exclude any genuinely eligible voters.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Fraud allegations in Woking and Birmingham

Today's Guardian features a general report on the potential for fraud, and a specific one on alleged cases in Woking and Birmingham. Of particular concern in Woking is this:

The electoral roll remains flawed for the general election, expected on May 5, and that the 16 names registered at 98 Albert Drive are still on the register. "The names of the postal voters there are still on the registers although none of them lives there and it is at the centre of a police inquiry," said Mr Hussain. "We have written to the council about this, but have had no response."

As well as the laxity of the local council, the article also notes that often the police have little experience in investigating such fraud.

Alleged violence and bribery in the Birmingham case

The Independent published an article on the Birmingham case last week. A mirrored copy is available here. The sheer scale is staggering - 3,000 of the 7,000 votes are alleged to have been fraudelently cast. And it wasn't just ballot box-stuffing, but also stretched to outright bribery and threats of violence:

The former Liberal Democrat councillor Ayoub Khan - who lost his Aston seat in those elections - claims some votes were up for auction. "I knocked on one door," says Khan, a 31-year-old trainee barrister, "and the householder said to me, 'I've been offered £10 for my vote, but I'm looking for £15...'" Khan also told a court he'd received "numerous death threats" during the election campaign. He says these have continued since he helped to mount a legal challenge to the Aston result. "People have phoned me at all hours, from withheld numbers. They play a recording: it'll say things like, 'We're watching you; we're going to shoot your kneecaps off.'"

Friday, March 25, 2005

Matthew Parris on the Birmingham case

Matthew Parris' column in today's Times details just how easy can be to get hold of dozens of votes. Though he can't resist sniping at Labour throughout, it is a good illustration of just how easy the system has been made. The police's indifference to any crime being committed is worth noting: any complaints made were nicknamed "Operation Gripe".

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Judge condemns system as open to fraud

At the moment this is an ongoing court case so I can't comment much, but coverage (of the Birmingham electoral court) is worth reading: BBC - Judge hits out at postal voting:

"If I come to the conclusion that all the respondents in both cases were entirely innocent, I would not neglect to point out the law as it stands is an open invitation to fraud. I could not come to any other conclusion."

The case is being heard by a judge only; judgement is reserved until April 4.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Welcome to Postal Voting

This is (or will intended to be) a blog about postal voting in the United Kingdom. With the upcoming general election this aims to be a central collection of resources about postal voting, and the potential for misuse or outright fraud in marginal constituencies.