On Tuesday, the SKWAWKBOX publicised a clear breach of the Electoral Commission’s Postal Vote Code of Conduct (CoC) by a local Conservative association (CA). The CoC makes it clear that – in order to avoid public suspicion over the handling of postal votes, then:
The CA in question was clearly asking voters to complete the form and return it to them, without making it clear that the preferred return address should be the official ERO – an apparently small technicality that leaves significant space for abuse of process and vote fraud.
At the end of that article, a call for assistance went out to readers to check the websites of their local CA and report any that broke the same rule. The results were striking – from a around a dozen responses so far, four sites were found to be clearly breaking the rules – with some even having set up a Freepost address to provide even further encouragement to voters to send the forms to the CA:
In addition, readers flagged Romford, where a Tory MP was criticised in 2014 by another Tory for ignoring the rule and soliciting applications to be sent straight to the Tory office.
Although the ‘sample size’ is too small to be conclusive and a majority of local associations checked complied with Electoral Commission rules, the results indicate a significant minority of CAs are currently in breach – leaving open both the suspicion and the possibility of mishandling of postal votes and, potentially, electoral fraud.
This is clearly a matter of both importance and concern – not just about this specific breach, but the question that if they break this rule, what else would they breach thatnmaa. The SKAWKBOX asks its readers to continue to find and check their local CA website and to flag any non-compliant sites in the comments section of this article, so the scale of the issue can be better understood and raised with the Electoral Commission.
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