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The Government is acting now to safeguard democracy

3 min read

From voter fraud to digital regulation, we need to act now to ensure electoral integrity – but we cannot do it alone, writes Chloe Smith MP

Last year was a monumental one for the constitution and the country. With three sets of elections, two of which were unscheduled, as well as many crunch votes in the Commons, UK democracy was under unprecedented scrutiny. The British people have waited more than three years to get Brexit done and we are delivering on and respecting the democratic will of the people. This Government renews its promise to ensure that every voice is heard.

Over the past decade, there has been huge transformation in how elections are fought and won. I want to hear from new members about your first experiences of campaigning in a general election and from every colleague who has been a part of the process.

This Government has set out an important plan for constitutional and democratic reform. Your perspectives are vital, so in my role as Minister for the Constitution I am opening my doors to colleagues across the House, ahead of our consultation on electoral integrity. Help me shape this work. We have confirmed that work will be taken forward to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, so that Parliament never again falls victim to the paralysis it suffered last year. And a new Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission will also be established, to develop proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.

“Stealing someone’s vote is a crime and this Government won't stand for it”

In our current system, the potential for voter fraud to be committed undermines public confidence in our democracy. We will tackle this by introducing voter ID and tightening restrictions around postal and proxy vote handling. Stealing someone’s vote is a crime and this Government won’t stand for it. We have made it clear that we are going to refresh electoral law so that it is fit for the digital age, bringing in new rules for online election materials to more clearly show who is behind them. And ordinary, decent people should be able to stand for public office without fear of abuse or intimidation.

But it is important to get this work right.

I want to put people first. Voters need our elections to be secure, modern and properly representative of diverse UK society. Just last week I laid the final statutory instrument to make spending rules fairer for disabled candidates standing for a range of different types of elections.

I want our democracy to be admired across the globe for decades more to come. I welcome views from colleagues across this House and invite you all to play a part in these historic changes.

Chloe Smith is Conservative MP for Norwich North and minister for the Constitution. She will be hosting a drop-in session in the Large Ministerial Conference room on Wednesday 22 January - 13:00-14:30.

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