Election Law

After the 2001 election, responsibility for elections was transferred from the Home Office to the Dept for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and subsequently to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Electoral Registration and Electoral Fraud

A survey undertaken by The Times published on 21st April shows that following recent changes in the law, 13 seats involve majorities of fewer than 500 votes. Perhaps the feelings of superiority as we watched the votes being counted in Florida were misplaced.

23rd May: The Times reports a huge surge in postal vote applications especially in Labour marginals, much larger than the actual majorities. The average increase in 100 constituencies is 300%. Examples they quote are:
Blackburn (Jack Straw's seat) 1,200% increase.
Kettering (maj 189) applications up from 800 to 2,000.
Northampton S. (maj 744) 3400 registered.
Somerset & Frome (maj 130) up from 2,000 to 3,000
Wellingborough (maj 187) doubled from 1500 to 3000.

In Cardiff the Council wrote to all 235,000 electors offering postal votes. More than 33,000 applied, a nearly 7-fold increase.
Stevenage, with an electorate of 69,000, has had nearly 24,000 applications.
In Bradford there has been a threefold increase.

The reported response of Sam Younger of the Electoral Commission is less than reassuring. He says he will write to returning officers and ask them if they think there is anything wrong. One might have hoped for a more thorough and independent investigation.

28th May: The human rights group Liberty is reported to be arguing that the numbering of ballot papers is a violation of human rights. 2nd June: The Telegraph reports that a senior election official has been suspended by the Belfast High Court after accusations of serious irregularities in dealing with postal vote applications in West Tyrone and South Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

5th June: The Electoral Commission has warned that there may be a series of legal challenges to results in marginal constituencies. Apparently a BBC investigator managed to obtain votes in the names of 5 dead people in Torbay. Lord Wetherill (a former Speaker) has called for a major inquiry into voting abuse. Tony Blair is playing the issue down, presumably partly because Labour set up the new system and don't want to attract blame, and partly perhaps because they think they might benefit from it.

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Last Modified: 10/22/12
© Richard Kimber