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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Are the Tories looking to emulate US Republican Party's voter suppression tactics?

The natural reaction of any political party that has been comprehensively trounced amongst the 18 to 24 year age group would be to do some research on the reasons and try and address the policy and image problems that led to that outcome. Unfortunately, that is not how the Tory Party thinks.

Instead they appear to be taking lessons from the United States where Republicans have done everything possible to prevent hostile voter groups such as poorer members of the black and ethnic minority community from registering to vote in the first place.

According to the Independent,  Tory MPs are now queuing up to call for action on unevidenced claims that many students voted twice during the last General Election. Their concern is centred on the fact that on 8th July, five Tory candidates lost by fewer than 50 votes, and in big university towns such as Canterbury the party lost by just 187 votes.

As the web page points out, students can live almost 50/50 between two addresses so UK law allows them vote in two different places for local elections, so long as they are different local authorities. It is of course, illegal to vote twice during a general election. Some Tories believe that it is possible for a student to vote in their university town, and hop on a train to vote at home, or even to arrange a postal vote.

None of that is evidence that such an event happened or that it did so on a large-enough scale to have affected the result in any constituency. This is mischief-making of the highest order.

It is also the case of course that a large number of Tory MPs are registered in two places at the same time. There is no suggestion that they hopped on a train to vote twice. And so to the facts as stated by the Independent:

By analysing the 2015 general election, the Electoral Commission found that 0.000016 per cent of votes cast were accused of being fraudulently cast.

In total there were 123 accusations of voter fraud. Of these only 57 accusations related to impersonation, multiple voting, or legal incapacity to vote at a parliamentary election.

Of those, only four cases resulted in caution, and two were under investigation as of March 2016.

There were only three convictions under the Representation of the People Act relating to 2015 elections, and only one of these related to a Westminster election.

The conviction was regarding false statements on a nomination form.

As ever in these cases it is best if politicians are not allowed anywhere near the apparatus that elects them. That is why the Electoral Commission exists, imperfect as it is, and it is why the Government should have no truck with the sour grapes currently emanating from Tory MPs about students, unless of course they can actually evidence their claims.
The Tories complaining about there losses at the hands of students.
I notice now that the students were conned anyway by Corbyn for the stance Labour took at the election is now being rethought
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