2016 saw an unprecedented number of polls with important elections held across the whole of the UK in May, a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in June, and numerous parliamentary by-elections.
We have recently published data on allegations of electoral fraud and their outcomes reported by the police during 2016 highlighting the relatively low levels of fraud and that there were no large-scale cases of proven electoral fraud.
Most importantly our report demonstrates that we can be confident that allegations of electoral fraud are taken seriously. Significant sentences will be imposed when electoral law is broken, and those responsible for electoral fraud can face jail.
The report sets out those cases which resulted in successful prosecutions and or police cautions, including two which led to significant punishments for offenders.
- A successfully elected local government candidate was found guilty of submitting a fraudulent electoral registration application and nomination form, and was sentenced to two months in prison and disqualified from standing for election for five years.
- A voter at the EU referendum pleaded guilty to voting twice at the same polling station, and was given a Community Payback Order of 300 hours and disqualified from standing for election for five years.
The data shows that 2016 saw an increase in the proportion of cases which related to voting offences, including personation at polling stations, in comparison to other types of electoral offence, and at the same time a reduction in the proportion of cases which relate to electoral registration offences, with a more significant reduction in 2015 and 2016.
We look forward to continuing to support and work with electoral administrators and police forces ahead of the polls this May and in future years, and to further address vulnerabilities in our electoral systems and the levels of public concern in this area, particularly in relation to levels of unreported fraud.
We will also work closely with the Government and other partners including the UK’s Law Commissions to identify how best to update and strengthen electoral offences, penalties and the legal challenge process, in order to ensure voter confidence in the integrity of the UK electoral system.
If you want to read the full report and see all of our other recommendations, it is available on our website.