Fraud centred on council elections, watchdog finds
Most cases of electoral fraud occur in local government elections, voting watchdog the Electoral Commission has reported.
According to a report by the regulator, electoral fraud is not widespread in the UK but is concentrated in a small number of local authority areas.
The Commission stated its belief that fraud is not likely to have been attempted in more than a handful of wards in any area and is mainly perpetrated by candidates or their supporters - and not by voters.
Additionally, the regulator states it would be a mistake for local government returning officers or police forces to think electoral fraud is confined to South Asian communities with roots in Pakistan or Bangladesh. However, given the lack of robust evidence the Commission will research whether or not people from these communities are able to exercise their right to vote effectively.
The Electoral Commission is also canvassing views on making the registration system more secure as part of a wider consultation on voting by post, by proxy and in polling stations.
‘It’s time to look at whether other trust-based elements of our system are sustainable,’ said Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission.
‘There are trade-offs between making the system accessible and making it secure. We need to make sure we have the right balance so that voters and political parties can participate in elections, but risks from unscrupulous campaigners are reduced.’
A separate analysis into recorded voting fraud found police investigated 406 cases in 2012 – an increase of around 150% compared with figures for 2011 (268) and 2010 (271).
However, two thirds of allegations were resolved without further action. Despite the higher number of cases only a small number were substantiated and none affected the outcome of any local government or police and crime commissioner poll in 2012.
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