If someone asked you what electoral fraud is, would you know? This blog, by the Electoral Commission, outlines the facts.
If a friend left you their polling card whilst they go away on holiday, would it be OK for you to cast their vote for them? OR, if someone tried to intimidate or bribe you into voting a certain way, you’d probably know that it shouldn’t happen – but is it actually illegal?
The answers are that no, it wouldn’t be OK for you to cast a vote for your friend, it would be a crime – UNLESS you’re registered as their proxy (or substitute) voter. And both intimidation and bribery are illegal.
Whether you’re voting in person, at a polling station, or completing your postal vote at home, it’s important that your vote is yours alone.
We at the Electoral Commission have launched a new campaign to help prevent electoral fraud ahead of May’s local elections, with the support of the charity Crimestoppers.
What is electoral fraud?
As well as raising awareness of how to report electoral fraud, the campaign also highlights what actually counts as electoral fraud.
As mentioned in the examples in our questions above, offences can include:
- ‘Undue influence’ (also referred to as intimidation) where a person directly or indirectly makes use of, or threatens to make use of, force, violence or restraint in order to persuade any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting.
- ‘Bribery’ – where a person directly or indirectly offers any reward to persuade any voter to vote a certain way or refrain from voting.
- ‘Personation’, which is where an individual votes as someone else. That can be at a polling station, by post or pretending to be someone’s proxy voter.
While proven cases of electoral fraud are relatively rare, it remains a serious crime and those who commit it can be sentenced to time in prison.
What to do if you’ve seen electoral fraud
If you see it, report it. If someone tries to take the vote of anyone you know, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.
Please note: If you fill out the online form, please select ‘Fraud and forgery’ as the crime type and then type ‘Electoral Fraud’ in the free text box on question 1. You do not need to select a campaign.
Crimestoppers will pass the information on to officers on the right police force without revealing the identity of the person making the complaint.
100% anonymous. Always.
Want to find out more? See the Crimestoppers electoral fraud website page.