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House of Commons Hansard
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19 March 2009
Volume 489
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6. What new measures to reduce electoral fraud the Electoral Commission expects to be in place by the next General Election. [264465]

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The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not expect new measures to be in place by the last possible date for the next general election.

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I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I am rather disappointed, because I am sure that he is as concerned as I am, and as everyone else in the House who worries about democracy is, about the comments made a few years ago by a judge who said that our standards were those of a banana republic. In particular, will my hon. Friend raise again with the Electoral Commission and with the Government the need for individual registration, rather than household registration, which would go some way towards solving the problem of electoral fraud? In addition, will he raise the fact that postal voting on demand has been shown—this has been commented on on many occasions—to be an easy route to fraud in elections?

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Occurrences of electoral malpractice are rare, but it takes only a small number for confidence in the voting system to be seriously damaged. The Electoral Commission takes the view that postal voting should be made more secure, rather than withdrawn, and it very much welcomes the commitment by the Government to introduce provisions to introduce a system of individual electoral registration in Great Britain. The commission has argued for that since 2003, and it believes that the system should be modernised and strengthened by introducing individual electoral registration.

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I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be aware that in certain community groups, there is considerable confusion as to whether people are entitled to vote, particularly because some of them are entitled to vote in local elections, but not in general elections. Is it on the commission’s agenda to do more to educate people about the circumstances, particularly in relation to their immigration status, in which they are allowed to vote?

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The hon. Lady makes a fair point. The rules are, in fact, a little complicated, and this is exactly the area in which the Electoral Commission feels a sense of commitment to make people aware of their rights.