The electoral system in Britain needs widespread reforms to crack down on corruption and fraud, a report from Sir Eric Pickles has warned.
The Government commissioned the review into how the electoral system could be made more secure following the corrupt and illegal practices in the 2015 Tower Hamlets election.
The report makes a number of recommendations about how to tackle electoral fraud including requiring voters to bring identification with them to polling stations, and giving more power to Returning Officers to crack down on 'unwanted behaviour'.
Sir Pickles also outlines measures to clamp down on postal vote ‘harvesting’ by political activists and stronger checks and balances against municipal corruption.
In the report, Sir Pickles said: The abuse there was facilitated by weaknesses in the system that is employed throughout Great Britain. We take our democratic institution for granted. We need to make sure that people trust the system and that perceptions can play as big a part in undermining the system as well as actual proof of fraud.
‘Electoral fraud and corruption is intertwined with other forms of crime as well. Local authorities have a large procurement role. A group of people who cheat their way to power are unlikely to hold a higher moral standard when handing out public contracts, or when making quasi-judicial decision on planning and licensing. Electoral registration fraud is connected with financial crime and illegal immigration.’
The Electoral Commission welcomed the report – especially the introduction of photo ID at polling stations – saying it made this recommendation itself last year.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: ‘The Commission takes electoral fraud extremely seriously and takes action before each set of elections to make sure the police and electoral administrators are aware what to do if they receive any allegations.
‘We welcome the fact that Sir Eric Pickles has repeated so many of the Commission’s longstanding recommendations in his report, including our call for voter ID from 2014, which the UK Government must now finally respond to.’