Friday 30 April 2010

Who Is Really Surprised?

First we have an irresponsible MP who has been tweeting postal vote results and gives the excuse that she was "over-excited." Kerry McCarthy is defending Bristol East. She was anointed as labour's 'Twitter Tzar' - someone who would encourage labour support through the social media Twitter.

I understand all PPCs are given the electoral rules and Ms McCarthy has no excuse. She knows she committed a crime because she has deleted the offending tweet. Surely the people of Bristol East will not vote for a woman who is so ignorant of electoral law. In case you are unaware Ms McCarthy is a qualified solicitor.

That's not all. Police have been alerted to postal vote fraud claims in London. They are 'assessing' 28 allegations but the result of their inquiries will not be known until after the election. No surprises there then and let's not kid ourselves - the practice will be spread throughout the UK in one way or another.

In Tower Hamlets alone the London Standard found some homes where up to 10 so-called 'ghost voters' have been registered on the electoral roll without the knowledge or consent of the people who live there. The report isn't talking about the odd property being targeted in this way but perhaps hundreds.

Canvassers have also been knocking on doors asking those who answered to sign forms. They are targeting homes where English is the second language.

There has been an upsurge in downloads on the postal voting website which some insist is due to Nick Clegg's sudden popularity. I'm a cynic.

I've said before that the postal voting system is wide open to fraud. We must stop postal voting fraud and the only way I see that happening is for postal votes to only be available to those who can prove they will be out of the country on election day, who are receiving disability benefit/DLA or who have some other good reason not to attend their local polling station.

Earlier today I had an email from a friend in England. She said she had had a canvasser at her door asking her to complete the form and they would 'do her the favour' of posting it on her behalf. I shan't disclose the party involved.

An independent Scotland should curtail the use of postal votes. We all have a duty to vote and the majority of the population have no problem making their way to a polling station to do so. I know every party offers a 'chauffeur' service for those who have difficulty for any reason.

Labour introduced this postal vote culture but it's one which should be halted now. It's too open to fraud. The police refusing to take immediate action also concerns me.

Do you really want a country, in another couple of generation's time, governed on the results of postal votes?


McGonagall said...

I wonder how many registers will disappear this time?

Tim Almond said...

"I've said before that the postal voting system is wide open to fraud. We must stop postal voting fraud and the only way I see that happening is for postal votes to only be available to those who can prove they will be out of the country on election day, who are receiving disability benefit/DLA or who have some other good reason not to attend their local polling station."

Exactly. And because the numbers were so small in the past, it was easy to spot collusion, easy to check and the numbers could barely make a difference to the result.

And if you nearby and able bodied and can't get to a local polling station, then you're just lazy.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"We must stop postal voting fraud"

well obviously, but the best and probably only way is to shorten that statement to "We must stop postal voting, full stop"

Anonymous said...

It seems that New Labour have been cited in Derbyshire too. Why is it always them?

As for Kerry McCarthy, the numbers she published seemed a tad strange to me, as because of boundary changes in her constituency, it's supposed to be tight. You wouldn't think with the numbers that she gave out on her "Tweet", leading me to believe that it was politically stage managed, from a favourable ward, or that once again there's been Socialist interference in the postal votes system.

Leg-iron said...

There has been an upsurge is downloads on the postal voting website which some insist is due to Nick Clegg's sudden popularity. I'm a cynic.

So am I.

I think it is due to Cleggie's surge but I don't think it's Lib Dems downloading. It's the revenants of Labour corpses, panicked into getting ten votes each in by Thursday.

They have absolutely no honour at all, these people. They'd dig up their own Granny and wheel her skeleton to the polling station if they couldn't fake a postal vote.

Spite is all they have left.

Dramfineday said...

Hands up, I'm an ejit, here's me thinking the postal votes didn't get opened until election day! Who authorised advanced counting, and more to the point, letting the politico's in on it? Doh..........we wont get folled again - but we do.

subrosa said...

We must stop it Joseph. Seems it's the labour party at it every time. I don't want a government gained by postal voting fraud.

subrosa said...

Yes Mark, I should have said that. Do away with it altogether if it can't be as tightly controlled as proxy voting.

subrosa said...

There was something strange about her numbers right enough D & C or, as you say, it was more of less a labour ward.

She should be forced to stand down.

subrosa said...

Spite and disrespect for the people, including their own voters LI.

Anonymous said...

This is surely electoral crime, like losing voting registers.

It could affect the outcome of the election.

I'm not sure why she is being investigated by police; she should be in the pokey now, being questioned like "ordinary" people when they break the law.

The fact that she is a qualified solicitor makes her offence even worse. She can hardly be ignorant of the law... but then the government's most senior solicitor was ignorant of the immigration law that she framed, so I guess I'm way out on that one.
We should go back to how it was before Labour let everyone have a postal vote. There must be a good reason for not going to the polling station. Illness, disability, being out of the country, or out of the area on business, etc.

The kind of trust that postal voting calls for is simply too great for this country at this time.

muddypaws said...

ignorance of the law is no excuse, neither is being over-excited.

This is a police matter, at the very least.

subrosa said...

It's going on everywhere tris yet so many people don't even know it.

I'll make sure when I vote that I look at the register and check the the names at this address.

The increase in them too is suspicious. What a great excuse they've had using Nick Clegg.

subrosa said...

It is muddpaws (good to see you) but by all accounts the matter won't be investigated until after Thursday. She should be forced to stand down until the verdict.

subrosa said...

Dram, I too thought postal votes were counted only after the polls closed so you're not alone. The whole thing is a mess and wide open to fraud.

John Pickworth said...

"Ms McCarthy is a qualified solicitor."

I thought they'd stamped out that kerb crawling down Bristol way? Still, might be a useful trade after losing her seat... Please God, make her lose her seat!

brownlie said...


I'm surprised that you're surprised about the misuse of postal votes. It seems that the Labour party, in particular, are adept at manipulating them to their advantage.

It always seems strange at election time there has been at an inordinate increase in the amount of individuals who are either abroad or incapable of voting personally. For example, in Glasgow North there was a dramatic increase in those holidaying abroad at that time of year.

Anonymous said...

That's a very good idea Subrosa. Everyone should ask to see when voting, how many people are registered to vote at their address.

The Last of the Few has done a post on Jack Straw and his crime (well the latest one anyway) but I don't seem to be able to comment on it. Are you having similar problems?

Surreptitious Evil said...

I voted postally (I am often in other parts of the country during the week.)

Postal votes are counted with the ballot votes - in fact they are deliberately mixed in for the count so you cannot tell which are postal and which are from polling stations (which means that it is impossible to gain data on fraud indicators like a candidate receiving a disproportionate %age of postal votes.) However, when postal votes are opened, they are opened in front of representatives of the candidates and there is no real control on them taking a quick count themselves - which is what the McCarthy twat did. Publishing those unofficial counts is, as she should have known, an offence.

Personally, as we are required to fold the ballot, why can't they just be opened and placed, still folded, into a sealed ballot box? (You have to separate them from the inner envelope because that has tracking data on it.)

There was nothing to stop any of the other people living in my house collecting my postal vote - it was obvious (okay, my daughter would actually have had to be awake when the post arrived ...) They all know my date of birth and I'm sure some of them could do a reasonable facsimile of my signature.

Clearly, there is no effective control to stop somebody standing over me while I fill the papers in (ballot and validation slip) and checking it before posting it. Or making me sign the validations slip then filling in the ballot themselves. None of this happened - and I even got off my fat arse and posted it myself!

The householder should get an annual note from the Returning Officer listing the people, aged 17 or over, at the house and their voting status (normal, postal or proxy.)

subrosa said...

She should be forced to withdraw John. If she wasn't labour she would be.

Rob Royston said...

I agree that the whole postal vote thing be scrapped. I work abroad and/or offshore, so I was always missing my vote.
I applied for a postal vote in 2007 as I knew I would be abroad. The forms arrived hours after I flew out of the country, four days before the election. The fact that I had lost my vote and the knowledge that fraudsters had succeeded in getting theirs in made it feel even worse.
This time my forms arrived nine days before the elections, so many in my work situation will have been disenfranchised again.
I think the proxy system is more reliable, and probably harder for the cheats, even if you are trusting your voye to another.

subrosa said...

Morning John. I'm not surprised surprised, especially when we're aware just how thick labour MPs are.

Postal voting has to be stopped.

subrosa said...

Yes I am Tris. I've emailed LotF to tell him but I think he's having difficulty solving the problem.

subrosa said...

So opened postal votes are held in some office until Thursday night SE?

Now there's an idea SE. At present all we receive are the official polling cards but they're addressed to the individual not the householder.

Billy Carlin said...

Labour here in Renfrewshire were up to these dodges years ago where registers etc would go missing after the vote.

With postal votes they do not need to use addresses where people usually vote as the registers tell you the people that don't vote. Don't forget that is a lot of people who never vote.

It is also easy for a council official etc to remove, or even add, bundles of votes whilst they are being counted as most people are watching the votes being sorted or counted to try and guess how their party is doing. This is especially so in councils that they control.

It is not just to do with postal votes. That is what happened in Renfrewshire in the past when the registers went missing. There were votes added in, or taken out, for Labour's benefit.

The registers would have shown too many or missing votes if they had not disappeared.

subrosa said...

I'd say the proxy system is more secure John, but for this election there hasn't been enough time for proxies to be initiated really.

For a proxy the voter has to download a form, complete it, scan it, email it to the relevant Electoral Office then send the form by snail mail so as they can verify the signature. If the proxy voter isn't a householder then the electoral office won't have a copy of the signature. All this has to be completed 6 days prior to polling day.

The military in Afghanistan haven't had a chance to vote because their postal voting papers or proxy arrangements are all too late owing to the time line.

Quite handy isn't it? Surely Brown would want 10,000 military votes. Surely... or maybe not.

subrosa said...

Billy, I didn't realise the registers marked those who did not vote. Is that legal?

Wonder if any registers will go missing this year. We really have to tighten up on procedures about such things.

Vronsky said...

There is a story in the current issue of Private Eye suggesting that the government is being less than energetic in arranging postal or proxy votes for the forces in Afganistan and Iraq, guessing that the troops are unlikely to support the shower who are getting them killed.

subrosa said...

There is a similar story drifting round military circles Vronsky. Given that there has only been 4 weeks' notice there's little the military can do. Any of them even in UK but unable to vote still couldn't have organised a proxy vote in time.

Surreptitious Evil said...


Military applications for postal and proxy votes last for up to five years - you don't need to apply for each election and you can now get on the roll every month rather than having to wait for the annual update. Military personnel are encouraged to use the proxy system but not everybody has an appropriate proxy (and it really doesn't work if your appropriate person is at your SFA in Germany!)

However, as has been said, the postal system isn't working with the short time scales for this election (and volcanos, bank holidays etc.) BAFF have a poll up on ARRSE for postal vote receipts. It is not currently showing any as having received their ballot papers except UK and Germany based personnel - Cyprus, Afghanistan or elsewhere (including, for some strange reason, Northern Ireland. But hey.)

Interestingly, the latest ARRSE poll for voting intentions is showing a strong Tory bias - 53%, with a mere 8% intending to vote (or willing to admit to such) Labour. The BNP showing, at 11% is a bit worrying ...

subrosa said...

I agree SE, but if you do not renew after 5 years your name is still on the electoral roll and an official poll card arrives at the registered address.

Some military decide to register where they are stationed during the months prior to an election. They can be registered in more than one place but can only vote once ie not once in each ward where they're registered.

In all my days I think the majority of the military have usually voted blue.

subrosa said...

Oh I should have said SE, the proxy and postal votes usually cover only one general election so they do have to be renewed 'per election'. Unless of course the voter lives in Scotland.

Surreptitious Evil said...

SR - well, yes, because they last for 5 years and we have general elections at roughly 5 year intervals. But as the same registration counts for Euro and council elections, as well as Scottish Parliament and Assembly elections, you can register your preference at any point. You don't have to wait until after an election is called (and, let's be honest, everybody knew we were going to have an election in May / June this year and most people who were bothered had guessed the most likely date.)

I can't generate too much sympathy for people who wait until the very last minute ... I couldn't vote in last year's Euro elections because I was in Iraq - my fault for not arranging a proxy vote ...

"Billy, I didn't realise the registers marked those who did not vote. Is that legal?"

It depends what you mean by "the register". There are lists at each polling station of everybody in the ward - these are marked up when you vote to prevent multiple votes being cast. As Billy suggested, more of these go missing than could be expected by routine carelessness. The voted / not-voted information isn't transferred to the Electoral Roll.

Billy Carlin said...

Hi Subrosa the electoral registers mark off who did vote, all the ones not marked off did not vote, obviously.

Your party canvasses for their voters so you roughly know who is yours and who is the other parties voters apart from the people who refuse to say.

You can then use the registers after the vote to see if your supporters actually turned out, or other party's voters did not (soft vote).

We used to do this to update our database and that is how you get to know the ones who never or rarely vote. That is how we discovered the missing registers.

DAD said...

Bring back the Poll Tax. It will stop all this nonsense.

subrosa said...

Actually Billy I knew that because, for a few years I did my stint in the town hall on polling days. I just wondered if things had changed and I'd missed something.

Things haven't changed then Billy. Still lots of pouring over paper to work things out. Hours and months of fun.

If I remember correctly the registers had to be requested from the Returning Officer.

subrosa said...

That's true SE. Unfortunately some are last minute voters and I've no sympathy either. I'm expected to have though. ;) (long story).

They're what are called the registers SE, or were when I did it. The only way they can go 'missing' is for reasons of fraud. They were always carefully collated and checked before being handed to the RO.

That's where Billy was confusing me. I though he meant the info was transferred somewhere. I now realise he's talking about party activist work in checking the registers then updating their own databases.

subrosa said...

Actually DAD, I was a lot better off with the poll tax. I still agree with it in principle ie that everyone should pay their way if they can afford it. Seems sensible to me.

The problem was the administration was poorly thought out and so, in some aspects, was the policy.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I've learnt more about voting procedures, especially those applicable to postal voting from these comments than I ever had from the media or bureaucrats.

This women's slip up in Bristol dumbfounded me because, like most people, I thought the vote was secret till the count. For it not to be allows for all sorts of manipulation and shenanigans.

In two byelections in Scotland - Fife and the last one in Glasgow, both were won on postal votes. A fact in itself that's worthy of suspicion since it's singularly unlikely the voters in each of these communities would be transported enmasse to the Maldives
and those who cannot be bothered to vote would find the postal system just as bothersome.

Yet on each occasion the SNP seemed to accept the result, which made others wonder whether they were crying wolf for no reason.

Perhaps we are, but these politico's are up to all sorts of twisted tricks such as constituency rigging, I can't see them having any qualms about desecrating the voting system.

And it seems like the Electoral Commission has joined the ranks of quasi quango's. If they already allow postal votes to be opened, they should initiate a sample check on their integrity?

Perhaps I'm showing my bias; but I just can't imagine a sentient being voting for Labour in this election, unless they gain by it.

subrosa said...

They are some of the reasons why postal voting should be stopped RA and only proxy voting permitted.

muddypaws said...

a prosecution against kerry mccarthy might not be a simple as it seems:

I believe most people think what she did was wrong and she's admitted as much herself, which leads me to believe the whole system and the laws to enable fair play and identify corruption need to be fundamentally reviewed.

Anonymous said...

I'm in two minds about postal voting, Subrosa. It's convenient.

Perhaps each postal vote should have an activation link. That, of course, would mean that postal voters have access to the Internet.

subrosa said...

I know it's convenient Fausty but it's far too open to fraud.

Proxy voting, although it takes a little more organising, is far more secure.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

By Proxy Rosa, do you mean you give a third party the right to cast your vote?

subrosa said...

Yes RA, for example, if someone was in the military and overseas on polling day, they could elect their wife, mother, father, friend to vote on their behalf.

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