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‘Your vote is yours alone’ – protect it at May’s local elections

Published: 3 Apr 2019

People are being encouraged to protect their vote ahead of May’s local elections in a campaign launched today by the Electoral Commission in partnership with the Cabinet Office and Crimestoppers, the independent crime reporting charity.

The ‘Your vote is yours alone’ campaign aims to help voters understand the different types of electoral fraud offences that can take place in a polling station, or when completing a postal vote, and to empower people to protect their vote.

Elections are taking place in 249 local authorities across England on Thursday 2 May 2019. Local authorities have been provided with resources – including videos, posters and a leaflet – which they can use in their local areas. Anyone with any concerns about possible fraud should tell Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their online form which can be found at crimestoppers-uk.org.

Bob Posner, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission said:

“Whether you are voting in person at a polling station on 2 May or completing your postal vote at home, your vote is yours alone. No one should feel pressured to vote a certain way. Anyone who attempts to do this can be committing a serious crime, which may result in a prison sentence. We know that voters can sometimes be unsure what electoral fraud is. Our campaign empowers voters to protect their vote. We encourage anyone with concerns to talk them through with Crimestoppers. This can be done anonymously.”

Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith said:

“The Government is committed to strengthening the integrity of our elections. The ‘Your Vote is Yours alone’ campaign is an important part of our work to give the public confidence that our democracy is secure. I encourage anyone who suspects electoral fraud to contact Crimestoppers”.

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

“It is only a tiny minority of people who try to jeopardise elections for personal gain. We must, however, stay alert to any suspicious behaviour as electoral fraud undermines people’s faith in democracy.

“By working together, we can all ensure that the UK’s democracy remains intact and I urge anyone with information to contact our charity 100% anonymously so we can protect the integrity of our democratic process.”

Ends

For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

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

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 on our website.

In January 2015, the Electoral 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 communities, and how these can be tackled.

Work to combat electoral fraud

What constitutes electoral fraud is not always well understood. For example, some people may not think that interfering with a relative’s vote can result in a criminal conviction. Research shows 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. Also that these factors could disproportionately affect specific groups including women in particular communities.

The Electoral Commission is committed to helping voters from all communities to understand that their vote is their vote only. As part of this, posters and the leaflet have been translated into Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali.

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

The Electoral Commission continues to work closely with Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers, 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.

About the Electoral Commission

  1. 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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