Thursday, February 6, 2014

We told them so - Postal Voting parliamentary inquiry, 2003

The news today that UKIP leader Nigel Farage has written to the Electoral Commission raising questions about the security of postal voting - mentioning the Unions Together organisation we investigated yeaterday - cast my mind back to 2003, when I appeared for UKIP before the ODPM parliamentary committee considering postal voting.

Even then it was clear that there were likely to be problems with postal voting. A representative os the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch stated quite clearly that voting fraud in Asian households was difficult to police for cultural reasons related to patriarchal society, and much discussion centered on the provision of marked voting reigsters so people could check whether their vote had been cast:

Mark Croucher of the UK Independence Party does not believe that provision of a marked register to voters would help detect fraud:

“[…] people who make a conscious decision to abstain and not to vote presumably take sufficient interest in a political process to make those checks, but in terms of finding out on a wider basis you do not remove the element of fraud from it. If people cannot be bothered to vote then they are unlikely to check to see whether they have or not"
Appears in the Hansard record of proceedings, as does:
 Q326 Chris Mole: Do you believe that having all-postal voting favours one political party over any of the others? Conversely, do you believe not having it favours one party over any others?
    Mr Forse: It probably has an advantage for the larger parties over the smaller parties, but not individual parties.   Mr Croucher: I would concur with that entirely...  it makes it much easier for existing and established parties to turn out people who are members of their parties and to encourage them to vote by post... So, yes, we tend to feel that it is an advantage to the major established parties and a disadvantage to smaller.

Mr Forse was representing the Scottish National Party as I recall. I got rather a hard time of it over Europe from several of the MPs on the panel - the details have not survived to the published version of Hansard! - but finished off by saying

"Attempting to somewhat artificially inflate turn-out by using convenience as a means to twist people's arms into voting is perhaps the wrong approach to it. Perhaps making politics more relevant to the people that we are asking to vote would be the answer. We historically never had a problem."

Naturally, this was not what our elected MPs wanted to hear: one can only guess whether they had already worked out how to subvert the postal voting system before they bothered with the Parliamentary inquiry. UKIPs written submission - which was prepared by former MEP & party chairman Dr John Whittaker - covered almost everything except the prediction of institutionalised corruption of the system by the trades unions in concert with the Labour Party. Fraud in sections of the Asian community was raised by the police, and by the Post Office. Did they pay attention? Of course not.


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