Worthing woman’s election fraud fears

A Worthing woman fears she may fall victim to election fraud after her polling card never turned up at her house.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:28 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:50 pm
Susan Delaney, from Worthing, is concerned about election fraud

Susan Delaney, of Congreve Road, is concerned that someone may use the card to vote on her behalf – and said the situation revealed a ‘loophole’ in the UK’s voting system.

The 67-year-old, who formerly worked as an administrator, contacted the council after her polling card did not arrive.

She said she was told it may have got lost in the post or accidentally been sent to someone else and was assured she did not need it to vote.

But under the current law in England, voters are not required to show any form of identification to prove who they are before voting.

Ms Delaney, who has helped out at elections for the last 10 or 12 years as a teller, first for the Conservatives and later for UKIP, said this had always concerned her.

“I’ve thought about it for years,” she said. “I’ve said to colleagues before – this is open to fraud.

“Anyone could go in pretending to be someone else.

“How do you know I am who I say I am? It’s very, very worrying.”

She also fears someone could go in with her polling card and pretend to be her.

Ms Delaney described the upcoming election as ‘a toxic and crucial one’, and said that when it came to choosing who to vote for: “I’m so confused about who to trust, I don’t want anybody voting on my behalf for someone I don’t trust.”

As a result of her raising her concerns, the council has agreed to provide her with a letter stating who she is that she can present at the polling station.

But Ms Delaney wants the rules changed, and believes people should have to show ID in order to vote.

“We’re one of the oldest democracies in the world and we can’t event be bothered to do it properly,” she said.

“Most of us have ID nowadays, there’s no excuse.”

Another suggestion was that it should be mandatory for people to show their polling card in order to be able to vote. “Otherwise why give them to people?” she said.

Ms Delaney said she was motivated to speak out on the issue by her ‘strong sense of fair play’.

“Rightly or wrongly, everyone is entitled to their belief. But I do like to see fair play,” she said.

“I’ve got friends who say there’s no point in voting, I say as a woman you have a responsibility to vote...women died to get the vote.

“I feel quite strongly about it in that respect.”

A spokesman for the cabinet office said that voter ID – the requirement to show ID and prove who you are before voting – had been piloted in certain local election over the past two years.

The spokesman added that a commitment to introduce photo ID requirement nationally was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech this year, along with additional protective measures for postal votes – however they said this policy was one of the current government’s and taking it forward would be a matter for the new one.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission gave the following information about the offence of personation – which is where an individual votes as someone else either by post or in person at a polling station, as an elector or as a proxy.

The spokesman said: “This offence applies if the person that is being personated is living, dead or fictitious.

“Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the offence of personation is also an offence.

“If polling station staff suspect a person of personating an elector or proxy, they may by law ask the individual two questions.

“They can ask whether the individual is who they say they are, and whether they have already voted. If the person answers yes and no respectively they must be issued with a ballot paper.

“Candidates are entitled by law to appoint polling agents to attend a polling station, with one of their roles being to detect instances of personation.

“If an elector who goes to the polling station to vote is told that they have already been marked on the register as having voted (for example owing to a case of personation) the voter can only be issued with a tendered ballot paper.

“Even though a tendered ballot paper is not included in the count, it provides a formal record that the elector tried, but was unable, to cast their vote.

“They are therefore a first stage in an elector pursuing a complaint and a Returning Officer establishing whether there are any patterns of possible personation across their area.

“In cases of suspected impersonation the poll clerk will report the matter to the returning officer, who would refer it to the Single Point of Contact – the police officer in charge of allegations of electoral misconduct.

“If successfully prosecuted, the person would face a penalty of imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine.”

According to the Electoral Commission, in 2018 there was no evidence of large-scale electoral fraud.

Of the 266 cases that were investigated by the police, one led to a conviction, and two suspects accepted police cautions.

In 2017, there was one conviction and eight suspects accepted police cautions.