Borough ‘at risk’ of electoral fraud

Calderdale Council elections 2015
Calderdale Council elections 2015

Calderdale Council has been identified as one of 18 local authorities in the country to be most at risk of allegations of electoral fraud.

Former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sir Eric Pickles MP, was asked by the government to consider what further changes were needed to make the electoral system more secure.

The Government responded in December to the report where the Electoral Commission identified the authority to be at risk of allegations of electoral fraud.

A number of measures to combat electoral fraud, including trialling the use of ID in polling stations is now being proposed.

Ministers are also considering measures to prevent so-called “postal vote harvesting” where activists collect up completed ballot papers from voters. Action will also be taken to reduce the threat of voters being intimidated around polling stations.

Constitution Minister Chris Skidmore said: “The Government’s view is that electoral fraud is unacceptable on any level.

“By eliminating fraud and tackling improper practices, we are ensuring the integrity of our electoral system while building a clear and secure democracy that works for everyone.”

Local authorities will be invited to apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID, or formal correspondence such as a utilities bill to prove their address backed by a signature check.

However, Merran McRae, Calderdale Council’s Chief Executive and Local Returning Officer, said: “No information has been provided regarding electoral integrity pilots at present, as such there has not yet been a decision on whether Calderdale will take part in a new government pilot scheme aimed at preventing electoral fraud.

“However we take the issue very seriously and already have a number of procedures in place which assist in highlighting potential fraud. We have worked closely with West Yorkshire Police for several years and will continue to do so to ensure that voters can have confidence in the integrity of all elections held in Calderdale.”