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‘Your vote is yours alone’ – new campaign launched ahead of May elections to help prevent electoral fraud

Published: 2 Mar 2018

A new campaign to help prevent electoral fraud has been launched ahead of May’s local elections by the Electoral Commission, with the support of Crimestoppers, the independent crime reporting charity, and the Cabinet Office.

The ‘Your vote is yours alone’ campaign materials depict different types of electoral fraud offences taking place in a polling station or in someone’s home as they complete their postal vote. They are designed to empower voters to protect their vote and report any concerns about possible fraud to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their anonymous online form which can be found at crimestoppers-uk.org

Local authorities have been provided with resources – including videos, posters and a leaflet – which they can use in their local areas.

Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said:

“Whether you are voting in person at a polling station on 3 May or completing your postal vote at home, it’s important your vote is yours alone. No one should feel pressured to vote a certain way. While proven cases of electoral fraud are rare, it remains a serious crime and those who commit it can be sentenced to time in prison.”

Mark Hallas, Chief Executive of the charity Crimestoppers, said:

“Our democracy has taken shape over centuries and all of us should be aware that a tiny minority of people may try to thwart the outcome for their own personal gain. Electoral fraud jeopardises our tradition of free and fair elections, which is why we are delighted to be involved in this important campaign.

“By highlighting the risks, we can ensure the public’s trust in our country’s electoral process is maintained. We urge people to contact our charity 100% anonymously if they know of someone committing electoral fraud.”

What constitutes electoral fraud is not always well understood by voters. For example, some people may not think that interfering with a relative’s vote could be a criminal offence. Previous research conducted on behalf of the Electoral Commission found that language barriers and a lack of awareness or understanding of how the UK’s electoral system works can make people more vulnerable to electoral fraud. This research also suggested that these factors could disproportionately affect specific groups including women in particular communities.

The Commission is committed to overcoming this and to helping women, from all communities, to understand that it is their vote and their vote only. As part of this effort, posters and the leaflet have been translated in Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali.

All resources have been developed with support and advice from a number of local authorities who have experience of managing an increased risk of electoral fraud in their area.

Robert Connelly, Head of Electoral Services at Birmingham City Council, said:

“Along with a number of other local authorities, Birmingham has been working with the Electoral Commission on the best ways to raise awareness of the potential for electoral fraud. It is an important national issue and it is important that we play our part in increasing awareness and letting people know what to do if they have concerns.

“While we must point out that it is just a very small number of people who would contemplate doing anything illegal around voting, it is important that people know that their vote is theirs alone and this campaign should go a long way to re-assuring people that allegations of fraud will be treated seriously.”

Electoral fraud data and the Electoral Commission’s work with the police

Allegations of electoral fraud reported to the Electoral Commission by police forces across the UK show that in 2017:

  • Police forces investigated 336 cases of alleged electoral fraud. Of these, 104 alleged cases related to voting offences and 36 related to registration offences.
  • One allegation of personation in a polling station led to one successful prosecution and conviction.
  • Two suspects accepted police cautions in relation to personation when voting by post and four suspects accepted cautions in relation to registration offences.

The Commission continues to work closely with Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) providing guidance and support to ensure that they have arrangements in place with their local police force to respond to any allegations of fraud. The Electoral Commission also works with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to provide guidance and support to police forces.

Ends

You can see materials from the campaign at the links below, including a:

Read data on reported allegations of electoral fraud to the police.

Electoral Commission spokespeople are available for interview. For further information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

What is electoral fraud?
There are a number of different offences that come under the term ‘electoral fraud’ and these are detailed in the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Offences include ‘undue influence’ (also referred to as intimidation) where a person directly or indirectly makes use of, or threatens to make use of, force, violence or restraint in order to induce or compel any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting. ‘Bribery’ is where a person directly or indirectly offers any reward to induce any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting. ‘Personation’ is where an individual votes as someone else. That can be at a polling station, by post or pretending to be someone’s proxy voter.

Every police force has designated a Single Point of Contact officer (known as a SPOC) to lead on election-related crime and they will give advice to local police officers investigating any allegations of electoral fraud.

Data on reported allegations of electoral fraud to the police can be found here.

In January 2015, the Commission published research carried out on our behalf by NatCen and academics at the universities of Manchester and Liverpool to provide insight into some of the particular issues faced by voters in some British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi communities, and how these can be tackled. The factors identified in the research as underpinning vulnerability to fraud do not exclusively affect these communities.

About the Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

About Crimestoppers

  • Crimestoppers is an independent charity which helps the police to solve crimes, making communities safer. It does this by operating the 24/7 telephone number 0800 555 111 which people can ring to pass on information about crimes anonymously. They can also use our Anonymous Online Form
  • Around 14 people are arrested and charged every day as a result of information given to Crimestoppers
  • Since Crimestoppers began in 1988, it has received over 1.8 million actionable calls, resulting in more than 140,000 arrests and charges. More than £135 million worth of stolen goods has been recovered and over £340 million worth of illegal drugs has been seized
  • In 2005, Crimestoppers launched the UK's Most Wanted on its website which allows the public to view images of criminals and pass on vital information about their whereabouts. It has been highly successful, with over 4,000 arrests to date
  • Crimestoppers UK was founded by Lord Ashcroft, KCMG PC, and Chairman of Trustees. In 1988, he launched Crimestoppers in the Metropolitan Police area. Crimestoppers' 'call to action' is built on a three-way partnership between the business community, the police and the media

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