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Postal Votes

Volume 731: debated on Thursday 27 April 2023

3. What recent discussions the Committee has had with the Electoral Commission on the security of postal votes. (904701)

The Speaker’s Committee has not held recent discussions on the matter. The Electoral Commission has highlighted that voting by post is a safe and popular method of voting, with safeguards in place to protect against fraud. The voluntary code of conduct makes it clear that political parties and campaigners should not assist in completing a ballot paper or handle completed ballot papers. The commission encourages campaigners to follow this code.

I think the Speaker’s Committee should have discussions about this issue. Has my hon. Friend seen some recent examples of Conservative party leaflets, where people are being encouraged to return postal vote applications to Tory headquarters rather than back to the local authority, and where millions of people are being disenfranchised through lack of voter ID? Leaflets have also gone out—in Norwich, for example—saying that people do not need ID to vote. Should not the Electoral Commission take the view that although such practices may technically be legal, they are in fact harmful to our democracy?

The code of conduct is of course voluntary, but the code of conduct for campaigners states that parties can provide applications for postal votes but the forms must include the address for the electoral registration officer as the preferred address, even if an alternative address is provided. Campaigners should send on any application forms they receive to the relevant address within two working days, and the commission recommends that any concerns that the code has been breached should be raised first with the candidate, political party or campaigner in question, and any further concerns should be drawn to the attention of the commission. The commission is aware of the Conservative party leaflet in Norwich and has had conversations with the party.