Report on 2009 electoral fraud cases published
Published: 1 Feb 2010
The June 2009 elections in Great Britain were free from major allegations of electoral fraud, and no-one challenged the results of any elections on the grounds of malpractice, states a report published today by the Electoral Commission.
Over 15.5 million votes were cast at the European Parliamentary elections and nearly seven million votes at English local government elections last year.
Police figures show that there were a total of 48 cases (involving 107 allegations) of electoral malpractice and more than half of the allegations reported required no further action. One case (involving seven allegations) resulted in a prosecution and one case resulted in a police caution; there are 17 cases (covering 50 allegations) awaiting further advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Commenting on the report, Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said:
"This year is going to be an important one for voters with a General Election and English local elections. These figures are encouraging for voters, who want to know that they can cast their votes safely and that they will be counted.
“However, no-one involved in elections should be complacent and we will continue to work with returning officers and the police to prevent fraud. Electoral fraud is a crime, and we congratulate the police for continuing to address it seriously. Their vigilance is essential for people to have confidence in the democratic process.
“The Electoral Commission has also improved networks and guidance for police officers on electoral malpractice offences and produced clear performance standards for Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) setting out expectations for plans to identify and manage allegations of electoral malpractice.
“As political parties themselves start to gear up for the next general election they can help by ensuring their staff and volunteers follow the Commission’s guidance. For example, they should not complete postal vote applications or ballots for voters.
“We are still calling on returning officers to check 100% of postal ballots and believe the Ministry of Justice should make this mandatory and provide the funding needed to make it possible.”
Gareth Cann, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and lead on electoral fraud for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said:
“There is little evidence of fraud on a major scale but by promoting best practice and learning from previous experience we can further reduce the opportunities for fraud. We remain vigilant and will investigate where evidence of wrong doing emerges.
“ACPO and ACPOS have worked together this year to provide more information on the numbers of allegations of electoral malpractice. In collaboration with the Electoral Commission we will continue to support the democratic process and tackle those who would seek to undermine it.”
For further information please contact:
Electoral Commission Press office
020 7271 0529 / 0527
outside office hours 07789 920414
Notes to editors:
1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
2. Details of electoral malpractice allegations at the 2009 European Parliament and English local elections are contained in a report published by the Electoral Commission, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) Police National Information and Co-ordination Centre (PNICC).
3. Data on allegations of fraud were collected between 26 May and 8 September 2009, with a further update at the end of November.
4. Jenny Watson is available for interview under embargo on 13 January but will not be able to discuss specific cases or allegations.
5. Embargoed copies of the report – Allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections – are available upon request.
6. The Electoral Commission works to prevent malpractice by producing guidance and training for the police and the people that run elections. Police have established Single Points of Contacts – local officers who are responsible for electoral fraud matters in their area - in every territorial police force in Great Britain. The Commission also works with political parties and candidates; all the main parties have signed up to a code of conduct on handling postal votes that goes beyond minimum legal requirements.
7. The Electoral Commission website has a range of guidance for people working on elections including police officers and electoral administrators. Visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk.