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Countering postal voting fraud

Martin Westgate QC considers the legislation and guidance attempting to create the right balance between maintaining the integrity of the ballot and encouraging participation

6 June 2017

There is evidence that postal voting increases turnout and participation. In the 2015 general election 86 per cent of those who were sent a postal ballot pack voted as against 63.5 per cent of those entitled to vote in person.

However, the process is also said to be vulnerable to manipulation and fraud. The current framework reflects a balance produced by a series of ad hoc changes where some of the main safeguards against abuse only appear in non-binding guidance.

The Representation of the People Act 2000 introduced postal voting on demand in England, Wales, and Scotland and enabled voters to request a postal vote indefinitely. Postal voting is not available on demand in Northern Ireland where only 1.4 per cent of the electorate had a postal vote in 2015 compared to 16.9 per cent elsewhere.

Making voting easier

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