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Electoral Fraud

Volume 631: debated on Wednesday 22 November 2017

We are committed to providing a clear and secure democracy, and we continue to work with local authorities to deliver voter identification pilots for the May 2018 local elections in areas such as Woking, Gosport, Bromley, Watford and Tower Hamlets, as part of our programme to strengthen electoral integrity.

Many people believe that online voting may have potential for the future. What is the Minister’s assessment of online voting in the light of allegations of Russian electoral hacking?

I believe that the UK electoral system is one of the most robust in the world. It is difficult to manipulate through a cyber-attack, as we operate a manual counting and manual voting system. As the First Secretary mentioned in his earlier answer, that may be seen as old-fashioned, but it ensures that our system is protected and our democracy safeguarded.

Will the Government consider using credit reference agency data to improve the accuracy of the electoral register?

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point, which I will be interested to go away and consider. We are already looking at issues of tenant security deposits, for example—one of the largest groups not on the register are movers and renters, which causes that churn. That is why we are determined to ensure that we have better data to identify where we need to focus our attention and ensure that everyone is able to register to vote.

Is the Minister aware that at the general election in June, there was a 300% increase in proxy votes in the Foyle constituency, resulting in Sinn Féin winning the seat by 169 votes? Many people are specifically saying that that was a clear case of electoral fraud and the theft of a constituency in this House. What will the Minister do to ensure that that does not happen again?

On the general principle of electoral fraud, it is absolutely right that we look at future measures to tackle electoral integrity. It is important that we should have confidence in our democratic system going forward. We will be looking at absent voting arrangements and postal vote harvesting, and we will introduce legislation in future to tackle these issues.