Electoral fraud in 2019

The UK has low levels of proven electoral fraud. There was no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud in 2019.

Overview

585 cases were investigated by the police. Of these, two led to a conviction and an individual was given a police caution.

This table shows the number of cases of alleged fraud reported to us by the police, for each election held in 2019.

ElectionNumber of cases
Local elections361
UK Parliamentary general election156
European Parliamentary election21
Non-election specific (for example, electoral registration)20
Local by-election12
UK Parliamentary by-election7
Mayoral election6
Combined authority mayoral election1
Police and Crime Commissioner by-election1

 

Cases where the suspect was convicted, or accepted a police caution

A conviction for false information on a nomination paper

Norfolk police received a report that an independent candidate submitted a local government election nomination form that included a signature from a supporter that he knew was false.

The candidate was elected, but following a police investigation he stood down and was:

  • fined £3,300
  • not allowed to stand for election for five years

A conviction for using someone else's vote at a polling station

West Yorkshire police received a report from polling station staff that a man had voted twice in the European Parliamentary election.

A polling station staff member became suspicious and went to the police. The police then arrested and interviewed the voter. He admitted to voting twice, once using his own name and once using his son’s name. He was:

  • sentenced to 8 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months
  • given a fine of £50
  • not allowed to vote for five years

A caution for using someone else's vote at a polling station

West Mercia police received a report that someone had voted at a polling station in the European Parliamentary election, but they weren’t on the electoral register.

The suspect knew that he was not on the electoral register and could not vote. Instead, he gave his father’s name to polling station staff and was given a ballot paper and cast his vote.

A polling station staff member suspected the voter was not who he said he was. They raised their concerns with the police who interviewed him under caution. He fully accepted that he had voted using his father’s name.

He accepted a caution from the police.

Election petitions

An election petition is a legal challenge to the result of an election.

There were eight petitions following elections in 2019:

  • One petition was made following the UK Parliamentary general election in the East Ham Parliamentary constituency
  • One petition was made following the 6 June 2019 Peterborough parliamentary by-election

We will update on the detail and outcomes of these petitions once they have been resolved.

Six petitions were made after the 2 May elections. Only two of these were successful.

Milton Keynes, Woughton Community Council

An unsuccessful candidate at the local elections petitioned the High Court that the wrong candidate had been elected. They claimed that the votes cast for each candidate had not been filled out correctly on the Declaration of Result form.

The ballot papers were checked, in secret, at the County Court. They found that the number of votes for each candidate was incorrect.

The petition was upheld and the petitioner was elected.

Swindon, Highworth Parish Council

An unsuccessful candidate at the Parish council election petitioned the High Court that a mistake was made by the Returning Officer when counting the votes. This meant that a different candidate was wrongly elected instead of them.

The ballot papers were checked, in secret, at the County Court which showed that a mistake had been made.

The petition was upheld and the petitioner was elected.

Outcomes of all reported cases

Description of tableau information

OutcomeNumber of casesPercentage of total
No further action29851%
Locally resolved18832%
Under investigation9116%
Conviction20%
Prosecution advice awaited20%
Other20%
Court proceedings initiated10%
Caution10%

Around half of all cases resulted in the police taking no further action. This means that the cases were not investigated further by the police because there was no evidence (or there wasn’t enough evidence), or an offence wasn’t found.

47 cases from the UK Parliamentary general election remain under investigation. We will report on the outcomes of these cases later in the year.
 

Types of reported electoral fraud

More than half of all reported cases were about campaigning offences. Most of these were:

  • campaigners not including details about the printer, promotor or publisher on election material - an ‘imprint’
  • someone making false statements about the personal character or conduct of a candidate

Number of cases, and the types of offences, investigated in 2019

Description of tableau data

The pie chart shows the number of cases, and types of offences that were investigated in 2019

CategoryNumber of casesPercentage of total
Campaigning31554%
Voting13924%
Nomination7112%
Registration5610%
Administration41%

Types of electoral fraud reported since 2010

Description of the tableau

Allegations data: by police force

Accessible information

Use this table to search for data from specific police forces, by category of offence or outcome.

Please contact us if you require the allegations data by police force in an accessible format.

Last updated: 27 August 2020
Next review: 6 March 2021