People are being encouraged to protect their vote ahead of May’s local elections in a campaign launched today by the Electoral Commission in partnership with the Cabinet Office and Crimestoppers, the independent crime reporting charity.
The ‘Your vote is yours alone’ campaign aims to help voters understand the different types of electoral fraud offences that can take place in a polling station, or when completing a postal vote, and to empower people to protect their vote.
Elections are taking place in 249 local authorities across England on Thursday 2 May 2019. Local authorities have been provided with resources – including videos, posters and a leaflet – which they can use in their local areas. Anyone with any concerns about possible fraud should tell Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their online form which can be found at crimestoppers-uk.org.
Bob Posner, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission said:
“Whether you are voting in person at a polling station on 2 May or completing your postal vote at home, your vote is yours alone. No one should feel pressured to vote a certain way. Anyone who attempts to do this can be committing a serious crime, which may result in a prison sentence. We know that voters can sometimes be unsure what electoral fraud is. Our campaign empowers voters to protect their vote. We encourage anyone with concerns to talk them through with Crimestoppers. This can be done anonymously.”
Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith said:
“The Government is committed to strengthening the integrity of our elections. The ‘Your Vote is Yours alone’ campaign is an important part of our work to give the public confidence that our democracy is secure. I encourage anyone who suspects electoral fraud to contact Crimestoppers”.
Mark Hallas, Chief Executive of the charity Crimestoppers, said:
“It is only a tiny minority of people who try to jeopardise elections for personal gain. We must, however, stay alert to any suspicious behaviour as electoral fraud undermines people’s faith in democracy.
“By working together, we can all ensure that the UK’s democracy remains intact and I urge anyone with information to contact our charity 100% anonymously so we can protect the integrity of our democratic process.”
Work to combat electoral fraud
What constitutes electoral fraud is not always well understood. For example, some people may not think that interfering with a relative’s vote can result in a criminal conviction. Research shows that language barriers and a lack of awareness or understanding of how the UK’s electoral system works can make people more vulnerable to electoral fraud. Also that these factors could disproportionately affect specific groups including women in particular communities.
The Electoral Commission is committed to helping voters from all communities to understand that their vote is their vote only. As part of this, posters and the leaflet have been translated into Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali.
Resources have been developed with support and advice from local authorities who have experience of managing an increased risk of electoral fraud in their area.
The Electoral Commission continues to work closely with Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers, providing guidance and support to ensure that they have arrangements in place with their local police force to respond to any allegations of fraud. The Electoral Commission also works with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to provide guidance and support to police forces.