AFTER thousands signed a petition calling for ‘on-demand’ postal votes to be scrapped and only made available on special grounds, Boris Johnson’s government have vowed to take action to crackdown on fraud – yet the proposed measures do not go far enough.
The petition, titled ‘Scrap ‘On-Demand’ Postal Voting, & Create Strict Eligibility Criteria’ was signed by over 10,000 British citizens – but despite promising to tighten security around postal votes, the Government reject the notion of scrapping easy access to vote by mail.
“Postal votes can be exploited by fraudsters to undermine democracy & attempt to rig elections” The petition stated. “As Sir Eric Pickles’ report into tackling electoral fraud suggested – & as much of the public would like to see – restrictions should be placed on the availability of postal votes.
“Postal votes can be exploited by fraudsters to undermine democracy & attempt to rig elections. As Sir Eric Pickles’ report into tackling electoral fraud suggested – & as much of the public would like to see – restrictions should be placed on the availability of postal votes.
“Postal votes should only be made available to the sick, citizens overseas, & those with no other alternative but to use one.
“We must urgently secure & strengthen our democracy, whilst restoring public faith in the electoral system. Postal votes should only be made available to those who can prove with relevant documentation that they are physically unable to cast their vote at their designated polling station. This should be limited to armed forces personnel, the seriously ill, and to British citizens working or living overseas.”
Responding, the Cabinet Office stated that:
“Electoral fraud is unacceptable and we are working to reform postal voting to ensure our elections are secure. However, the Government has no plans to abolish postal voting in its current form.
“Electoral fraud is unacceptable on any level. There are already measures in place designed to enhance the security of postal voting, such as postal vote identifiers. In response to Lord (then Sir) Eric Pickles report on electoral fraud, the Government accepted recommendations to strengthen the postal vote system and, in line with our manifesto commitment, we are working to reform postal voting to ensure our elections are secure. When Parliamentary time allows, the Government will bring forward legislation to introduce measures that will restrict the handling of postal votes by people who may seek to abuse or subvert them and introduce controls on the return of postal votes via polling stations, which has been a cause for concern in past elections.
“The Government does not support all-postal voting, which would increase fraud risks, and remove choice from voters who wish to cast their vote in person. However, the Government has no plans to abolish the postal vote system in its current form and Lord Pickles’ report did not propose the removal of postal voting on demand. Postal voting enables many people to cast their vote who may otherwise not be able to vote. Many other voters find it a convenient way to cast their vote that fits in with busy lifestyles for people who work or have caring commitments. That said, we continue to look at ways to develop the process to ensure postal voting remains secure.”