Call for in­quiry into claims stu­dents voted twice for Corbyn

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Kate Mccann Se­nior Po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent

FEARS that stu­dents may have voted twice to boost Jeremy Corbyn’s elec­tion re­sult have prompted the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to de­mand ur­gent ac­tion to halt a sus­pected rise in voter fraud.

Min­is­ters should in­ves­ti­gate de­vel­op­ing a new com­puter sys­tem to block du­pli­cate vot­ing and force elec­tors to choose where they will cast their bal­lot, the com­mis­sion said last night.

The watch­dog re­vealed it re­ceived more than 1,000 com­plaints and al­most 40 let­ters from MPS about vot­ers cast­ing more than one bal­lot in June and it is work­ing with po­lice on how to in­ves­ti­gate the claims.

It high­lighted ev­i­dence show­ing stu­dents were most likely to be reg­is­tered in more than one place and that thou­sands more than ex­pected reg­is­tered to vote.

Around 500,000 more peo­ple were reg­is­tered for the June 8 poll than at the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion, tak­ing the elec­torate to 46.8 mil­lion, the largest so far, it said. Nearly two mil­lion young peo­ple ap­plied to vote and Labour claimed its un­ex­pect­edly good re­sult was down to high num­bers of stu­dents sup­port­ing Mr Corbyn. In Can­ter­bury, where Labour took the seat by just a few hun­dred votes, the com­mis­sion recorded an un­ex­pect­edly large num­ber of ex­tra peo­ple reg­is­ter­ing.

The watch­dog pointed to its large stu­dent pop­u­la­tion and the law which al­lows those study­ing away from

home to reg­is­ter in more than one place, al­though they are obliged to vote only once.

The Labour vote rose by over 20 per­cent­age points in the city with a turnout of 72 per cent, which the de­feated Tory can­di­date put down to a larger than ex­pected stu­dent vote for Labour.

The com­mis­sion said: “In the days fol­low­ing the elec­tion, a num­ber of peo­ple on so­cial me­dia claimed that they had voted twice at the gen­eral elec­tion.

“Al­though peo­ple may law­fully be reg­is­tered to vote in more than one place in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, it is trou­bling that some vot­ers ap­pear to have ad­mit­ted vot­ing more than once at the gen­eral elec­tion, which is an of­fence.”

The crime car­ries a fine but be­cause each coun­cil keeps its own record of who has voted, it is dif­fi­cult to ver­ify un­less con­cerns are re­ported to po­lice.

Call­ing for an ur­gent re­view, the com­mis­sion added: “If we are to keep pace with mod­ern habits and prac­tice in a dig­i­tal world, the elec­toral reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem must con­tinue to evolve, and con­sider innovative so­lu­tions such as di­rect or au­to­matic en­rol­ment pro­cesses.”

The Govern­ment has al­ready con­ducted a re­view into voter fraud and promised to im­ple­ment new stricter guide­lines to pre­vent it, but con­cerns about re­peated vot­ing are likely to spark fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The com­mis­sion con­ceded that it did not have ev­i­dence to sup­port claims of wide­spread abuse and without a cen­tral com­puter sys­tem to mon­i­tor votes it was dif­fi­cult to prove the al­le­ga­tions.

The UK does not have a na­tional elec­toral reg­is­ter. In­stead, 380 sep­a­rate reg­is­ters are com­piled and main­tained by elec­toral reg­is­tra­tion of­fi­cers.

The com­mis­sion said thou­sands of peo­ple had reg­is­tered to vote mul­ti­ple times, as many as 70 per cent of res­i­dents in some ar­eas, which added ex­tra costs for coun­cils who had to man­u­ally check each ap­pli­ca­tion.

The watch­dog called for the Govern­ment to look at in­tro­duc­ing a com­puter sys­tem to al­low elec­tors to check if they were al­ready reg­is­tered.

It also urged min­is­ters to con­sider adopt­ing an au­to­matic reg­is­tra­tion scheme sim­i­lar to the one used in Aus­tralia.


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