Campaign to stamp out voting fraud welcomes MP's support

December 1, 2008 9:37 AM

unlock democracy logoUnlock Democracy has welcomed the support of Cambridge MP David Howarth as it launches a new campaign to Stamp Out Voting Fraud campaign.

The campaign calls on the Government to implement the more stringent electoral security measures introduced in Northern Ireland six years ago throughout the rest of the UK.

The calls for Individual Voter Registration have already gained support in Parliament from all parties including Mr Howarth with an Early Day Motion (EDM) having received support from nearly 70 MPs.

Mr Howarth said: "Despite the Government facing wide-spread criticism, it is refusing to take decisive action to protect voters. This is totally unacceptable.

"We have seen a case of vote rigging in Peterborough which is close enough to home for everyone to realise this is a real and genuine threat. Yet the Government, whilst insisting it is 'working' on the problem, is doing nothing to protect democracy.

"It should be moving swiftly to raise standards and introduce safeguards to stamp out voting fraud now not putting off this issue with lame excuses."

The campaign follows recent court cases on electoral fraud in Peterborough, Slough and Birmingham, where people were convicted of attempting to 'rig' the result of the election.

The judge in the Birmingham case, Richard Mawrey QC, noted: "to ignore the probability that [electoral fraud] is widespread, particularly in local elections, is a policy that even an ostrich would despise."

The Government has faced criticism in this area from variety of watchdogs such as the Electoral Commission, The Chairman of Standards in Public Life and the Council of Europe.

Last week the Government decided to block amendments to a Bill which would have introduced similar measures in the UK. Minister of State Michael Wills committed the Government to "work" on the problem but failed to commit to anything other than attempt to build "consensus."

Deputy Director of Unlock Democracy, Alexandra Runswick, commented:

"The Government's lax attitude on electoral fraud flies in the face of expert opinion. They recognise there is a problem, but have adopted a Through the Looking Glass, 'jam tomorrow' approach using the upcoming general election as an excuse to do nothing now.

"There are plenty of things the Government could be doing before the election. They have already acted in Northern Ireland with great success. At the very least it should publish a White Paper to spell out clearly what action needs to be taken in the rest of the UK. If they don't take action now, there is a real danger that the necessary reforms won't be ready in time for the election after next.

"It is extremely disturbing that voters who live in the 'Mother of Democracies' are so vulnerable to having their votes stolen. Government ministers should be less concerned about deciding when the next general election should be held and more about ensuring it will be fair and fraud-free."

voting fraud logoThe Stamp Out Voting Fraud website can be found at http://www.votingfraud.org.uk.

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