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Voting Fraud

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 11 December 2014

4. What progress has been made by the Electoral Commission on its work in the 16 parts of the country it identified in January 2014 as vulnerable to voting fraud. (906591)

The Electoral Commission has targeted 17 areas where there is a high risk of allegations of electoral fraud to ensure that returning officers and police forces have developed appropriate responses to address specific local risks for the May 2015 elections. The Electoral Commission has also worked with the College of Policing to publish detailed guidance for police forces on preventing and detecting electoral fraud. The Electoral Commission has worked with political parties to agree a code of conduct for campaigners and is developing a simple guide for voters about how to protect their vote and how to report electoral fraud.

Sadly, in Pendle, allegations of postal vote fraud are nothing new, with the dubious actions of certain Labour councillors being reported to the national press as far back as 2002. Serious questions were asked earlier this year on the letters page of the local paper about the rigging of Labour’s own parliamentary selection. What reassurance can my hon. Friend give me that fraudulent postal votes will not determine the outcome of the general election in Pendle?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the threat of electoral fraud in his area. He will be pleased to hear that the Electoral Commission has called a meeting tomorrow for representatives of the 17 high-risk areas, including Pendle, to review progress on anti-fraud measures and to ensure that the May elections are as secure and as transparent as possible. The message must go out in Pendle and elsewhere that electoral fraud in this country will not be tolerated.

If a constituent becomes aware of, or suspicious, that electoral fraud is taking place during the election campaign, what should they do about it?

My hon. Friend asks a very important question. The answer is that the constituent, if they become suspicious of electoral fraud, should report the matter to the local police force and, if possible, the local returning officer. Every police force should by now have specialist officers who are trained in investigating this thankfully rare but important crime, which highlights the fact that electoral crime in this country will not be tolerated.