A campaign to help prevent electoral fraud ahead of May’s local elections has been launched by the Council with the support of the Electoral Commission and Crimestoppers, the independent crime reporting charity.
The impact of electoral fraud on voters can be significant. It takes away their right to vote as they want – whether through intimidation, bribery or by impersonating someone and casting their vote. ”Your vote is yours alone” raises awareness of what constitutes unacceptable pressure to influence whether or how someone casts their vote.
Ahead of local District and Parish elections in Thanet, Thanet District Council will be running a social media campaign and putting up posters to empower electors not to become a victim of electoral fraud.
Madeline Homer Returning Officer at Thanet District Council, said:
“Unfortunately, on rare occasions, some people may try to manipulate our electoral system and commit electoral fraud. Many people may not be aware that their actions constitute a crime. Your vote is yours alone and we are launching this campaign so that voters know what to do if they suspect they are a victim of electoral fraud.”
Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance at the Electoral Commission, said:
“Whether you are voting in person at a polling station on 2 May or completing your postal vote at home, it’s important that your vote is yours alone. No one should feel pressured to vote a certain way. While proven cases of electoral fraud are rare, it remains a serious crime and those who commit it can be sentenced to time in prison.”
Mark Hallas, Chief Executive of the charity Crimestoppers, said:
“Anyone trying to unduly or illegally influence a ballot, is undermining the public’s trust in our democracy. The UK’s tradition of free and fair elections deserves protecting.
“Should you know of someone breaking electoral law, please speak up and stop electoral fraud. If you feel uncomfortable contacting the police directly, then our charity is here 24/7 to listen and take your information. You will remain 100% anonymous. Always. Call 0800 555 111 or use our Anonymous Online Form.”
Anyone who thinks they have witnessed electoral fraud can call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org
The deadline to register to vote for local elections is midnight on Friday 12 April. Anyone who is not already registered to vote, can apply online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. It takes just five minutes.
The deadline to apply for a postal vote is Monday 15 April at 5pm.
Anyone who is registered to vote and wishes to do so by post can apply at www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote and complete a form which must be printed and signed before being sent to the Electoral Registration Officer.
Information and frequently asked questions about how and where to vote can be found on the Thanet District Council website www.thanet.gov.uk
What is electoral fraud?
There are a number of different offences that come under the term ‘electoral fraud’ and these are detailed in the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Offences include ‘undue influence’ (also referred to as intimidation) where a person directly or indirectly makes use of, or threatens to make use of, force, violence or restraint in order to induce or compel any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting. ‘Bribery’ is where a person directly or indirectly offers any reward to induce any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting. ‘Personation’ is where an individual votes as someone else. That can be at a polling station, by post or pretending to be someone’s proxy voter.
Every police force has designated a Single Point of Contact officer (known as a SPOC) to lead on election-related crime and they will give advice to local police officers investigating any allegations of electoral fraud.