Electoral Commission: Little evidence to support 'widespread' voter fraud fears

Posted On: 
17th July 2017

The elections watchdog has said there is little evidence to support claims of “widespread” voter fraud at the recent general election. 

A polling station set up in a launderette
Credit: 
Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

More than 1,000 members of the public and 38 MPs have written to the Electoral Commission to register concerns about alleged “double-voting” in the 8 June poll.

The complaints followed boasts from some people on social media that they had cast two ballots because they were registered to vote in more than one constituency for local elections.

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The Electoral Commission said such allegations were “troubling”, but said there was a “lack of evidence” that it was prevalent across the country.

“In the days following the election, a number of people on social media claimed that they had voted twice at the general election,” the report said.

“We received a significant amount of correspondence referring to these posts – at the time of writing, we had received 38 letters from MPs raising constituents’ concerns, as well as 1,013 emails and 15 telephone calls from members of the public referring to media reports about these claims.

“We take these reports very seriously, though there is so far a lack of evidence of widespread abuse.”

Double-voting is illegal but being registered in local authority elections in two different places is allowed for certain people, such as students.

The Commission suggested the Government should consider whether to require those registered in two areas to choose at the time which parliamentary constituency they will vote in.  

The Conservative manifesto called for the introduction of ID checks at polling stations in order to bear down on electoral fraud.

Constitution Minister Chris Skidmore said earlier this month that double-voting was “nothing less than an abuse of our democracy”, after a number of Tory MPs raised the issue in the House of Commons.

But Labour has warned against any measures that could suppress voter turnout.

Cat Smith, the Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said: “Double voting is a serious crime and it is vital that the police have the resources they need to bring about prosecution.

“However, we urge caution when looking at measures to tackle this issue – a blanket ban on being registered at two addresses would exclude those who for reasons of work or study need to be registered in two places.

“This cannot be an attempt to make it harder for young people and students to register to vote.”

Elsewhere in its report, the Electoral Commission revealed 46.8 million people were registered to vote on 8 June – the largest electorate in history.

From the point when Theresa May announced her intention to call a snap election to the deadline, 2.9 million applications to register were received – though many were made by people already on the electoral rolls.

The Commission said “urgent steps” were required to ease the financial and administrative burden of these duplicate registrations.