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Postal Voting is wide open to abuse, endangering UK democracy

Postal Voting, Oldham West and Royton by-electionOldham West and Royton, with a (shock?) status quo result tonight, has re-ignited the debate over the validity of Postal Voting.

Let me set you straight upfront, so we don’t have to do the normal dance on Twitter, where you hurl me all sorts of ‘Kipper-related insults. I am not a ‘Kipper.

On the other hand, I refuse to recognise the false accusations levelled against UKIP, with a racism theme at their heart, propagated and almost encouraged by a very biased-looking mainstream media in the UK.

Like it or not, UKIP are a valid party, a party on the up, a party with a current manifesto few voters would find much fault with, if taken on its own merit with no anti-UKIP bias applied.

UKIP recent General Election results:

2010: 919,546 votes (3.1% of total vote)

2015: 3,881,129 votes (12.64% of total vote)

No, I’m a centre-right, currently supporting a Conservative government which I personally feel is given some seriously bad press, judged harshly by a smarting population, yet they have undertaken a financial recovery which would be regarded as miraculous in most other EU states.

Ok, got all that out of the way. Now you can at least insult me properly on Twitter, without the rigmarole of me having to explain for the umpteenth time that your insults do not apply to me, without even getting into any of the inanely repetitive inconsistencies they contain in the first place.

Oldham West and Royton by-election

Tonight’s result in the Oldham West and Royton by-election should have been a foregone conclusion, maintaining a massive 15,000 Labour majority a simple task, given how little time has passed from the General Election in May.

It turned out, though recent polls & betting forecasts suggested a much closer contest, even a possible Labour loss, Labour did indeed win and managed to increase their percentage share of the turned out votes.

Oldham West and Royton by-election result, 03/12/2015

  • Jim McMahon (Labour) 17,322 (62.27%, +7.49%)
  • John Bickley (UKIP) 6,487 (23.32%, +2.71%)
  • James Daly (Conservative) 2,596 (9.33%, -9.65%)
  • Jane Brophy (LibDem) 1,024 (3.68%, -0.00%)
  • Simeon Hart (Green) 249 (0.90%, -1.05%)
  • Sir Oink-A-Lot (MRLP) 141 (0.51%)
  • Labour majority 10,835 (38.95%)
  • Electorate 69,009
  • Turnout 27,819 (40.31%, -19.32%)

UKIP were obviously outraged. They had expected (as had everyone) a much closer contest, even a potential upset. Given the toxicity of Labour at present, with their Corbynista vs Blairite civil war fought openly and the farcical response to the recent Syria debate, UKIP had spied an opportunity opening up. The media frenzy over the past few days, in such a safe seat, is testament to the general feeling that something might happen. It didn’t.

“I must congratulate the Labour party for running a very successful postal vote election. But I think it does throw up in the air the whole question of democracy because, why do we bother having polling days? This election was probably over a week before the election took place. I think we should go back to the system where people have to sign up for postal votes and need a good reason [to get a postal vote] …. What we shouldn’t have is postal votes on demand because I think it’s an affront to democracy.”

Paul Nuttal, UKIP deputy leader

Postal Voting

Police asked to investigate more than 50 allegations of electoral fraud

The Guardian, May 2014

Postal Voting is a contentious subject. With the blatant attempts to rig elections in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham, using postal voting, still fresh in the mind. With the lack of control election officials can have over who is filling in the postal vote, prior to returning it, screaming fraud. With the blatantly obvious potential for peer pressure to affect the outcome of numerous postal votes originating from the same address. There are some serious questions needing asked over the validity of Postal Voting and the glaring potential for fraud.

Postal voting is ‘wide open to fraud’ and should be scrapped in its current form.

Judge Richard Mawrey, March 2014

(who sits in judgement on electoral fraud cases)

In the Oldham West and Royton by-election, there were 7,115 valid Postal Votes returned. In itself, this does not seem like such a large number, but given that it is 25.6% of the total votes received (27,819), this certainly should raise an eyebrow. Given that this has risen quite dramatically from May, one would have to ask why this particular form of voting has become suddenly so popular.

There have been grumblings that postal voting is favoured by the large British-Asian population in Oldham West, that it allows British-Asian men to cast the votes on behalf of (or simply influence) their wives, that there have been conversations on the street where British-Asian women have suggested they “have not been told who to vote for yet”. The validity of these may be difficult to ascertain, but the same accusations continue to get levelled, particularly given the previous history in other areas compounded by the increase in this by-election.

A partial history of Postal Voting in the UK

‘Absent’ Voting was introduced in 1918 to allow servicemen to vote in elections easily.

‘Absent’ Voting (Postal Voting) was extended to civillians in 1948, limited to those not currently in the UK and the disabled.

In 1999, a Working Party on Electoral Procedures published a report, recommending that ‘Absent Voting’ should be allowed on demand and that the application/procedures be simplified.

In 2001, these recommendations were implemented in England and Wales.

Northern Ireland was already considered tainted by electoral fraud, the potential for Postal Voting fraud was deemed too great. Does this suggest there were already concerns that Postal Voting could be ‘open’ to fraud?

It didn’t matter in Oldham – but it matters

Given all I’ve reported above, the huge potential being highlighted (across the political spectrum) for Electoral Fraud using Postal Voting, the tendency towards this type of fraud amongst one section of the community and the strange increase in uptake for Postal Voting, surely someone in authority has to take a look again at this widening chasm in the age-old democracy we hold dear?

I’m not saying Oldham West and Royton was rigged, even with all of the Postal Votes being rejected Labour had done enough to win, but I am suggesting there are sufficient grounds to be suspicious of the whole procedure for Postal Voting in the UK.

I do hold a personal view that the specific courting of British-Asian voters by Labour, their willingness to accept things like segregated areas for women, their apparent lack of interest in doing anything which might cause consternation amongst British-Asians and their already well-documented history of ignoring scandals such as Child Abuse in Rotherham, suggests sufficient grounds to open an enquiry to ensure the UK is fully democratic in all aspects of Voting Procedures. I fear this current system does nothing to integrate British-Asian communities with their indigenous neighbours, causing further mistrust in an already fragile relationship.

I would also humbly offer one final observation, without making any point other than it is quite coincidental, but we appear to see one party in the UK gain most from a procedure they readily implemented whilst in power in 2000.

Let’s get this Postal Voting fiasco sorted, once and for all. If you are physically able to go to a polling station, you should have to go there to vote, many have for many years in the past.

Let’s not let an obvious breach of UK democracy be left to fester from a minor wound into a full blown amputation.

Understanding electoral fraud vulnerability in Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin communities in England

Prepared for the Electoral Commission, January 2015

Elections, voting and electoral fraud: An exploratory study focussing on British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis

Prepared for the Electoral Commission, January 2015

Credits: A big thank you to @Enemywithin who provided me with some handy research material for this article, saving me a load of time battling my way through repetitive claptrap via our friend Google.

About UK Rants

"UK Rants" is a blogger who supports both the Conservative party and leaving the European Union. He writes on current affairs to inform his readers with as much information as he can, to allow them to make most informed decision possible when voting. He blogs in his personal capacity at

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