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"Operation Third Term" Labour's GOTPV Campaign - their view on postal voting

Labour's 2005 General Election Campaign booklet is called "operation third term".

In section 8 relating to Postal Votes it says:

Labour supporters with a postal vote are four times more likely to vote than Labour supporters who vote at polling stations. If we can get them to apply for a permanent postal vote it helps our electoral prospects in future elections.

That is not surprising if their vote is stolen and filled in for them. It only takes one Labour activist to fill in hundreds of postal votes.

They say:
After the ballot papers have dropped:
From this point your election campaign should be all about making sure that Labour supporters use their vote.

Brief your volunteers
• Under no circumstances should they handle or view the ballot paper until it is securely sealed in its envelope.

The best way to increase the number of Labour voters voting by post is to make sure that every time a volunteer contacts a Labour voter they offer a postal vote application form.

In the event that a voter asks a volunteer to return it, they should make sure that it is put straight into the post box or delivered to the council.


The point about all of the above is that regardless of the fact that Labour do say "under no circumstances should they handle of view the ballot paper".

This does not happen. The ballot paper is handled by Labour activists and not only in Aston and Bordesley.

The circumstances are uncontrolled and do not maintain a secret ballot. The European Convention on Human Rights says:
The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.

These conditions are not those that "ensure the free expressiion of the opinion of the people". That is because the system does not maintain a Secret Ballot.

On my Stolen Votes website I detail how I raised a judicial review into this issue that failed.

When I get some spare time (if ever) I will probably arrange for a second judicial review into exactly this issue.

Labour have massively undermined democracy in the UK.

Comments

Bob Piper said…
So... let's get the picture clear. The Labour Party totally repudiates electoral fraud and issues very strong warning to those involved in electoral activity that they should not even handle or even view postal voting papers. Some activists (Labour and others) disobey that strong advice.

From that you extrapolate that the Labour Party itself has deliberately undermined democracy. That is a perverted logic. So, if I help out John Hemming in the General Election, and against his clear instructions, carry out electoral fraud... is John Hemming, nay, the entire Lib Dem Party, guilty by association?

What next? Will John Hemming start dipping Labour activists in the river Tame and if they do not drown they MUST be guilty?

Do you have an obsessive personality disorder by any chance?
john said…
I prefer the river Cole to the river Tame ....

The criticism of the Labour Government lies in changing the system to make it easier to fiddle it.

The issue of checks and balances is important.
PoliticalHack said…
Not only are campaigners advised to take great care about postal votes, I can vouch for the briefings given to agents and candidates in advance of June 2004. It was crystal clear that we were not to engage in anything that might expose us even to suspicion.

Just as John can't vouch for the absolute probity of all his electoral workers, I can't speak for every Labour member on the ground, but am certain that only a tiny minority of political workers (of any party hue) would even consider this. Virtually all members would condemn this behaviour - funnily enough, the history of our party is about seeking political representation for those who do not have a voice.

While this is a serious problem, it isn't limited to just one party. I've certainly heard historical anecdotes about all parties engaging in dodgy electoral practices.
Bob Piper said…
The postal ballot system was introduced to try to encourage democratic participation, not reduce it. Let's face it, the offense of personation, i.e going to the polling station and pretending to be someone else on the electoral register, is a practice as old as the ballot itself. The old Belfast joke of 'vote early, vote often,' was about voting on behalf of those pushing up the dasies in Milltown.

By criticising a system recommended by the electoral commission (not the Government) in an attempt to increase participation, and there are significant arguments that it does do so, on the basis of a few bad apples, is in itself undermining democracy.

If you extend your logic you will close polling stations on the basis of personation undermining democracy. You lost in Yardley fair and square... put it behind you... accept it. It will make you a better person.
john said…
There are a number of key questions:

a) How many votes are defrauded
b) In How many wards
c) In How many cities

How easy is it to detect fraud, what could be done to prevent fraud.

The key to all of this is that we need systems of democracy that have mechanisms to prevent fraud.

I accept that Personation occurred (and still does), work needs to be done to reduce personation. However, postal vote fraud and the milder, but still significant loss of the secret ballot happens on a much wider scale.
Bob Piper said…
Errm... exactly how do you know that John? Personal involvement?
Stephen Booth said…
As I see it the secrecy around votes makes it far to easy to commit fraud. It amazes me that anyone could just walk into my local polling station claiming to be me and vote as me. The first anyone would know about it would be when I showed to vote and my entry on the roll was already marked.

Perhaps we should make voting compulsory to present your ballot card and a suitable piece of identification (passport, driving license, age verification card &c) when voting (or sent back with the postal ballot and an SAE for return of the ID).

If you can't prove that you're entitled to vote then you can't vote.
dennisthedog said…
John can you propose how you would do it?

I take your points as smear against Labour I would hold far more respect for you if you commented on the system and not blame the goverment.

I won't vote for spin or millionairres who think that they can pay due to thier priveledge into the house.
dennisthedog said…
John can you propose how you would do it?

I take your points as smear against Labour I would hold far more respect for you if you commented on the system and not blame the goverment.

I won't vote for spin or millionairres who think that they can pay due to thier priveledge into the house.
john said…
Stephen: the rules you are talking about apply in Northern Ireland.

dennisthedog: the system was introduced by the Labour Government before the Electoral Commission was created.

I am quoting from the Labour General Election Manual 2005.

The question is to what extent Labour are turning a blind eye to these abuses. They are well known in the Birmingham Labour Party.

(and across the country)

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