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Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps the Government took to tackle electoral fraud in the local elections. (70080)

The Government take the issue of electoral fraud seriously, and prior to the elections worked with administrators, the Electoral Commission, the police, and the political parties on improving both the legislation and practical awareness and responsiveness to the issue on the ground.

Regulations were passed prior to the May 2006 local elections which contained measures to tackle fraud, including:

A requirement for Electoral administrators to write to everyone who has applied for a postal vote acknowledging receipt of their application and confirming the outcome—thus alerting people to false applications for postal votes on their behalf.

Giving administrators more time to check postal vote applications—people now have to apply for a postal vote 11 working days before the close of poll, (rather than six days as previously).

In addition, the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers produced practical guidance for police forces on the prevention and detection of electoral fraud, and the Commission produced a Code of Conduct on the handling of postal vote applications and ballots, which the major political parties signed up to.