Postal Voting

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.

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