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Sir Eric Pickles’ Review of electoral fraud

On 14 August 2015 the Cabinet Office announced that Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, was to review electoral fraud and make recommendations on what could be done to tackle the problem. His report, Securing the ballot, was published on 12 August 2016 and made fifty recommendations about various aspects of the polling and electoral registration process.

The Government’s response was published on 27 December 2016. It welcomed many of the recommendations and has said it will work with the Electoral Commission, the Association of Electoral Adminstrators and others to take forward the proposals. The Government stated that the response “creates a challenging programme of work that will take place over a number of years and requires partnership working with other governments and a range of organisations at both the national and local level”.

At the same time as publishing the response, the Government announced pilot schemes for the use of ID in polling stations. The Government will invite local authorites apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID such as driving licences and passports, or formal correspondence such as a utilities bill to prove their address backed by a signature check. Voters will be asked to produce ID before they can be given their ballot paper. These trials will take place in some areas in England at local government elections to be held in May 2018.  

The Electoral Commission’s 2014 report and recommendations on electoral fraud

There has been increasing concern about electoral offences in recent years and in 2012 the Electoral Commission began a review to determine whether there were opportunities to improve confidence in the security of the electoral process. On 8 January 2014 the Commission published its final report and recommendations on electoral fraud in the UK. The Commission called for sustained action to address the risk of electoral fraud, especially in higher risk areas, and has called for the introduction of a system under which voters should be required to show proof of identity at the polling station before they can be issued with a ballot paper.

Recent measures to combat electoral fraud: the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration

The Labour Government had made provision for the introduction of individual electoral registration (IER) in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 to help combat fraud. Following a commitment in the Coalition’s Programme for government to speed up its implementation, the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 made provision for the introduction of IER by 2015. IER was introduced from 10 June 2014 in England and Wales and from 19 September 2014 in Scotland. For further information see Library Briefing Paper 6764, Individual Electoral Registration.

Cases of electoral fraud: reports by the Electoral Commission and the police

This Briefing Paper gives details of the reports published by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers on cases of alleged electoral malpractice from 2008-2015.

The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into electoral conduct

The Paper also provides information about the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into electoral conduct which published its report in October 2013. The cross-party group of MPS and Peers was commissioned by John Mann MP to examine discriminatory behaviour during election campaigns.

Chronology of allegations of electoral offences since 2010

A chronology of allegations of electoral offences from 2010 to date is given and the different election offences are described; for information about electoral fraud before 2010 see Briefing Paper 3667, Postal voting and electoral fraud 2001-09.

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