Eric Pickles hunts for evidence of electoral fraud

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There’s a fair amount of controversy over how much fraud there really is in British elections. Hence this from Eric Pickles who is in the ‘there’s lots of it’ camp:

Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, is to review electoral fraud and make recommendations on what more could be done to tackle it…

John Penrose, Minister for Constitutional Reform, said:

“Most people feel British elections can be trusted to deliver whatever people have voted for. But, in a changing world, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must spot new or growing weaknesses in our election system, and fix them before they turn into a problem like Tower Hamlets. Sir Eric’s work will provide the facts we need to do this properly and, with his years of experience with local government, he’s the perfect man for the job.”

The Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion, Sir Eric Pickles said:

“The government’s roll out of Individual Electoral Registration across Great Britain is a significant advance in creating an electoral register that is secure from fraud. It is important that we now look at other parts of the system to identify what more can be done to improve electoral integrity.

“The British system is among the world’s most trusted democracies, but it is essential that it remains so. The recent election court ruling in Tower Hamlets is a wake-up call that state bodies need to do far more to stamp out corruption and restore public confidence. Financial and electoral sleaze go hand in hand – if a dodgy politician is willing to break election law, they will not hesitate to syphon off taxpayers’ money for their own ends.”

The levels of reported incidents and allegations of electoral fraud in the UK do not suggest electoral fraud is widespread, but we cannot know how much goes undetected…

The consultation period will last for 8 weeks, closing on 8 October 2015.

Oddly, one argument that is almost never rolled out is that cracking down on fraudulent electoral register entries makes fighting crime – such as financial fraud – easier.

Even in the past when I’ve been in consultation meetings on the register with senior police and representatives of the financial sector, this rarely gets mentioned. Yet try to get a financial product and you’ll quickly see how electoral register checks are a basic part of security systems. I’ve never quite understood the financial industry’s lack of interest in the quality of the electoral register given its role in the frontline of tackling financial fraud.


UPDATE: I wasn’t impressed with the Pickles Review when it was published.

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