There’s more to electoral reform………..

………than the voting system and I’m dismayed in the extreme that we are apparently to have a referendum on it next May! This is far too short a time to consider all the aspects of the subject that should be addressed calmly and thoroughly.

It’s not long since a judge described aspects of our current electoral procedures as being suited to ‘a banana republic’. He was dead right!

One should start with the Register of electors. It is now ‘updated’ every month, not annually as formerly. This is supposed to give a more accurate register and the coming of the computer makes it possible. But most local authorities employ only three or four people in the Electoral Registration Dept., no more now than they did 20 years ago.

  • What verification is there on a monthly basis that all the claims of people to reside at whatever address are in fact accurate? You can’t do the checking monthly that used to happen annually.
  • What verification is there that the people named are of the legal age or nationality or even exist?
  • What checks are there that people are not registered at multiple addresses and vote more than once at the same election?
  • Since anyone can ask for a postal vote just because they want one, what guarantees do we have that ballot papers are completed by the actual person named?

Answer to all the above? Almost none. The cases of electoral fraud that do come to light often do so accidentally and I am fairly certain that they represent only the tip of the iceberg. If we want ‘fair elections’ – and I think we do – shouldn’t we address this problem as a priority?

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About pauljohnston

Elected as Conservative councillor in Surbiton Hill, Kingston upon Thames in 1998. Re-elected 2002 and 2006. Former parliamentary candidate in Lancashire and Birmingham. Ceased to be a Councillor (temporarily?) in 2010. Active among Residents' Associations in Surbiton Hill and among residents in social housing generally. Former teacher of History at St. Brendan's College Bristol and Head of History and Politics at the London Oratory School. Worked with Sutton Trust running summer schools for sixth formers at Oxford University from 1997-2000 aiming to improve uptake of places from pupils from state schools which sent very few applicants to Oxbridge.
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