Minister blasted over 'Donald Trump playbook' electoral fraud warnings
The Government has been accused of reading from the “Donald Trump disinformation playbook” by talking up the threat of electoral fraud.
A number of Conservative backbenchers raised allegations in the House of Commons today that people had voted more than once in the recent general election.
Constitution Minister Chris Skidmore described double voting as “nothing less than an abuse of our democracy”.
But Labour MPs accused the Tories of trying to suppress voter turnout by overstating the problem as a justification for new checks at polling stations.
John Spellar, the MP for Warley, said: “Aren’t we supposed to have policy driven by evidence? Wasn’t it significant that in his reply the minister gave not one shred of evidence?
“Quite frankly at every election there are one or two cases where people are convicted of fraud out of tens of millions of voters. This is straight out of the Donald Trump disinformation playbook because, again, they are trying to suppress voter participation... He should be ashamed of himself.”
Chris Ruane, the Labour MP for the Vale of Clwyd, added: “The fact that there were two successful prosecutions in 2016 shows the size of the problem.”
And the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard urged Mr Skidmore not to “pander to the near-obsession” of the Conservative backbenches.
In response, the minister pointed out that the Electoral Commission was in favour of a form of ID checks at polling stations – something that the Tory manifesto proposed.
“People deserve to have confidence in the security of our democratic system at elections,” he said.
“Voter ID has been in place in Northern Ireland for decades, with photographic ID being introduced in 2003 under the previous Labour Government.”
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen had claimed that under the current system “in theory someone could get hold of a telephone directory and vote all day in different polling stations”.
Other Tories claimed they had been made aware of people voting twice.
Sir Henry Bellingham said: “There is now clear evidence that many students boasted on social media about voting twice – once at university and once by postal vote at home. Surely this is straightforward electoral fraud?”
Antoinette Sandbach also said there was “clear evidence of double registrations”.
The Conservative manifesto read: “We will legislate to ensure that a form of identification must be presented before voting, to reform postal voting and to improve other aspects of the elections process to ensure that our elections are the most secure in the world.
“We will retain the traditional method of voting by pencil and paper, and tackle every aspect of electoral fraud.”
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