Call for inquiry into claims students voted twice for Corbyn
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.