Beware the Banana Republic Postal Ballot 95


Yet another election is about to be held under the UK’s dreadfully insecure postal ballot system, which an English judge who presides over electoral fraud cases has said “would disgrace a banana republic”.

In a single case, Judge Mawrey had come across postal ballot fraud being committed in 14 different ways. There have in fact been many convictions for postal ballot fraud. Some of these are of Labour councillors in Blackburn, where I personally came across a boarded up empty flat containing fifteen registered postal voters, and we chased Labour councillors from street to street as they collected bagfuls of uncompleted postal ballots. In that election, won by Jack Straw, at 37% Blackburn had the highest percentage of ballots cast by post in the UK. There have been numerous convictions for postal ballot fraud throughout the UK, but that is the tip of the iceberg and most of the time, they get away with it.

The system was introduced by Blair and I have no doubt that party advantage was in mind. There have been Tory convictions for postal ballot fraud in Birmingham, but Labour have been by far the biggest beneficiaries. To the extent that I had been puzzled why on earth the Condem coalition had not repealed this awful legislation. The answer is, of course, that they are willing to sacrifice a little ground in the fake battle between red tories and blue tories, in order to retain the postal ballot against the necessity of large scale vote rigging in the effort to keep Scotland under Westminster rule.

Party political activists know this next point to be true, but it is almost unbelievable. There is an electoral commission regulation which specifically facilitates postal ballot fraud. Postal ballots must be physically mixed in with other ballots before counting, so that it is impossible to tell if the postal ballot result differs markedly from the voting in person result. I can quite understand why they must be counted at the same time as other ballots, but physically mixed in?

The 800,000 postal ballots registered in Scotland are one major reason why we cannot be complacent about the opinion polls. This is wide open to fraud. Multiple voting or voting by non-existent “ghost” voters, or people living elsewhere, is perfectly possible at the ballot box but much more difficult and time consuming and much more open to detection.

The rationale for the abandonment of the classic secret polling booth ballot as the basic method of voting, was that postal voting would increase voter turnout. In fact, voter turnout has steadily fallen since its introduction. I predict in England – where there is no realistic prospect of change from the old trougher tory parties – it will fall again. In Scotland, where there is a vision of real change, turnout will be up. But if anybody thinks the British state is going to let Scotland move closer to independence without fighting dirty, they are extremely naïve.

In future, there should be a return to the principle that normally your vote should be cast in person at the secret ballot. To get off your arse to vote is not too much to ask for maintaining democracy. Postal votes should again be provided only to those who have medical certification that they are unable to attend the polling station, or evidence of living abroad. I favour tax certificates from a foreign country as the norm for the latter.


95 thoughts on “Beware the Banana Republic Postal Ballot

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  • DtP

    They have tightened up the regs a bit but yeah, at the lat election I was working for one of the bigger parties and we did our own thing only to be beaten by another main party doing their own thing much better. I remember having a cigarette outside the town hall and being introduced to their HQ fixer and, i’m not proud to say, but we pissed ourselves laughing at the work we were spending so much time on – ‘campaigning’s for chumps’. Glad i’m retired, really.

  • Robert Crawford

    Craig Murray.

    Is it legal for a Scotsman living overseas, and has never been resident in England to be invited to vote in a Tory marginal in England?

    That finshed me with the Tory party. Thanks to Margaret Thatcher.

  • Clark

    37% postal votes in Blackburn? And about 22% in the Scottish independence referendum, where only a 5% swing would have changed the result? This is a disgrace.

  • Becky Cohen

    As Joseph Stalin once said: “It’s not the vote that counts; it’s who counts the votes.”

  • JimmyGiro

    In the computer age, we should be using a similar system as on-line banking; which is proven ‘safe’, and unique to each user.

    Computerized voting would only need:

    (i) National Insurance Number.
    (ii) Two personal and private passwords for the on-line system.

    Any none existent N.I. numbers would automatically be flagged; as would two or more votes with the same N.I. number. Coupled with the unique M.A.C. number of any on-line device, any fraud would be detected AND located by the software.

  • Les Cunningham

    Apparently in the referendum there were suspiciously high postal voting turnouts in some areas, where it would seem that there were hardly any postal voters who failed to to return their ballot papers because they could not make up their minds as to which way to vote.

    http://www.rusartnet.com/russia/politics/scottish-independence/postal-ballot-at-the-scottish-independence-referendum

    Postal voting does not necessarily allow people working abroad to vote. I once asked about a postal vote, as I was going to be in Nigeria during a general election, and was told that postal ballot papers would be sent by surface mail such a short time before the election that it was very unlikely that I would be able to return mine in time for it to be counted. I had to settle for a proxy vote instead. Admittedly this was more than 20 years ago; perhaps now they might use airmail.

  • Kempe

    In the last GE Blackburn also held the record for the largest percentage of rejected ballot papers.

    Postal ballots have been available to the disabled and those working overseas since 1948, extended to holiday makers in 1985 and since becoming available on demand in 2001 voter turnout has risen although it’s still marginally lower in Scotland than in England or Wales.

    http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

    Whether the upward trend will continue this year is anyone’s guess, especially when the electorate are given the choice I’ve got; John Bercow, UKIP or The Greens.

  • craig Post author

    Jimmy Giro

    Any electronic system is massively open to interference by the state. The great virtue of the paper and polling booth system is the ability of citizen observers to invigilate it.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Craig

    “To the extent that I had been puzzled why on earth the Condem coalition had not repealed this awful legislation. The answer is, of course, that they are willing to sacrifice a little ground in the fake battle between red tories and blue tories, in order to retain the postal ballot against the necessity of large scale vote rigging in the effort to keep Scotland under Westminster rule.”
    __________________

    I do agree with most of your post but what you say here goes too far; it is tantamount to claiming that there was large-scale fraud in the recent referendum through the medium of postal voting. Do you really believe that?

    A better explanation for why the Coalition did not repeal the legislation is probably that it didn’t see the matter as important enough, whether generally or because such fraud would most probably make no difference to the end result in seats like Blackburn anyway.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Now, as his admirers on here are aware, Habbabkuk is a strong believer in the introduction of ID cards in the UK. I very much doubt that personal freedoms are any less in those European countries (the majority) that do have such a system than they are in the UK.

    As far as elections are concerned, the use of the postal ballot should be curtailed in the way you suggest (or with even stricter criteria) and voting at general elections should become compulsory; the identity of voters turning up at the polling station would be checked against their ID cards.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    I agree with Craig that electronic voting under the conditions enunciated by Jimmy Giro would not be sufficiently transparent and, moreover, I believe it would still be open to fraud by ill-intentioned individuals.

    What is certain is that the availability of postal voting ON SIMPLE DEMAND is patently absurd. There is not a single European country where such a possibility exists – which might say something.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I believe Andy Anderson, Education Officer for the Democratic Socialist Federation, linked on a previous thread to this marvellous report into the Argyll and Bute count of the Scottish Independence Referendum, but I can’t find it now. It may have been a colleague of his.

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=816197151794309&id=664987453581947

    I wish I could find the previous link, because the Facebook report does not give the actual statistics. I had an idea that they did not quite square with what Craig has said here:

    “Postal ballots must be physically mixed in with other ballots before counting, so that it is impossible to tell if the postal ballot result differs markedly from the voting in person result”

    But I see that Mr Anderson actually opened some of the boxes and did some of the mixing in, so he can give an insider perspective on the fact that the postal ballot “No” vote was astonishingly high. The greater the proportion of postal voting area by area, the higher the “No” vote rose, generally.

    The report really gives a solid basis for concern about postal vote rigging, and I hope Mr Anderson and his colleagues can pursue this matter further, and that it is taken as far as possible.

    Kind regards,

    John

  • craig Post author

    Habbabkuk,

    No, it is an assertion that they wished to keep modalities of large scale state agency run fraud open if they needed to use them, but they didn’t.

    My personal view was that there was a lot of “normal” postal ballot fraud orchestrated by the Labour Party as usual, but probably not enough to have changed the result.

  • Geoffrey

    Just had a very creepy call on behalf of MQR,trying to find out which way I intend to vote,and the likelihood of my voting. Clever questions,seeking information,did my best to give them incorrect idea of my intentions,but I think they might have worked that out.

  • BrianPowell

    If the Head of the treasury civil service, Nicholas McPherson, would openly admit that abandoning civil service impartiality was OK in the Independence Referendum, then postal vote rigging is an easy step.

  • nevermind

    Agree and second everything said about the fiefdom of Blackburn, the last election there was as much of a shambles as the previous one’s and the same Labour party attack force will be out on this May intimidating voters as they enter the voting booth.

    Many electoral laws will again be broken in Blackburn and Darwen. The loss of 5000+/- postal voting forms, most likely filled out to favour the Independent candidate Bushra Irfan was ignored by a pouting electoral reform society.

    Twice before the count during the election campaign did I got in touch with them pleading for election observers, but none was forthcoming with the explanation that the ERS ‘was fully trusting Blackburn council with the administration of this election’

    So what does that say about this establishment poodle that regulates nothing at all?

  • Tin Tin

    Democratic Socialist Federation and Independence Live will be livestreaming a report on the Referendum Postal Ballot.
    We will be introducing our report on how it was rigged, and discussing the background to the decision to do this study and draw up the report.
    The Scottish Parliament must investigate the Referendum Postal Ballot and the issues identified in the DSF report.
    8pm start.
    Live Stream Link:
    http://livestream.com/IndependenceLive/events/3976753

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Tin Tin, please can you post a link to the complete written report?

    Many thanks,

    John

  • YouKnowMyName

    @JimmyGiro on-line banking; which is proven ‘safe’

    the great news about “safe online banking” is that the available fraud opportunities have led to a record low of actual bank robberies with sawn-off guns; unsolved jewel heists are very much the rarity today as the crims make massive profits from typing a few things into the internet!

    a typical threat here is from versions of the dual-factor breaking Zitmo Trojan which can infect a PC if a user clicks on a malicious link, the Trojan then remains dormant until a user logs into a bank/voting website….a bogus confirmation SMS is sent to the user’s Android, BlackBerry, iOS (iPhone), Symbian (Nokia) or other smartphone… the dual-factor malware intercepts the unique transaction authentication number (TAN) that banks/returning-officers send to a customer’s mobile device via SMS, and your vote for Grey Party is immediately registered instead for the Fascist Party, and all your money is later stolen..

    don’t trust the internet for everything, until we eventually use blockchain-based trust with perfect forward secrecy, and even then it would be better to use a pen mark on a piece of paper, sigh.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Craig

    “No, it is an assertion that they wished to keep modalities of large scale state agency run fraud open if they needed to use them, but they didn’t.”
    _______________

    Well, I would dispute that assertion and maintain that the explanation is somewhat simpler and along the lines I mentioned.

    Let’s be honest – there are a thousand and one bits of legislation which could usefully be repealed but which are not because it is felt – rightly or wrongly – that it is not worth the time and trouble. Must one see an evil intention or a kind of conspiracy behind everything?

  • Techno

    “Any electronic system is massively open to interference by the state. The great virtue of the paper and polling booth system is the ability of citizen observers to invigilate it.”

    Indeed, this week it has been reported that a US lottery director tried to fix a lottery result by tampering with the central computer. He almost got away with it, but he made the mistake of buying the ticket himself, and then trying to remain anonymous when claiming it which violated the state law (you would think he would know that).

    If a lottery director can fix a lottery then it follows that an electronic election can be fixed as well.

    But our dumb politicians still press on with it in the belief that it will increase voter turnout (although their enthusiasm for electronic voting may be because they have realised that it makes elections easier to fix).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    I (and perhaps others) would find it interesting to read a considered and informative post on ballot rigging in the US at any level of election and, specifically, on the subject of postal voting in the US, again at any level of election (eg does it even exist, if so, has there been documented fraud, etc…).

    Perhaps a contributor to this blog living in the US could help out with this?

  • Mary

    If I call this ‘country’ a banana republic, which it is now, I am told that I hate my country!

    —–

    Mil(l)ipede Jnr is in UKIP mode today on immigrants.

    Theresa is ‘very’ concerned about the Janner decision.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Techno
    18/04/2015 11:56 am

    “(although their enthusiasm for electronic voting may be because they have realised that it makes elections easier to fix)”

    Excellent – let’s get the Chaos Computer Club to write the programming software

    J

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Tin Tin

    “Democratic Socialist Federation and Independence Live will be livestreaming a report on the Referendum Postal Ballot.
    We will be introducing our report on how it was rigged, and discussing the background to the decision to do this study and draw up the report.
    The Scottish Parliament must investigate the Referendum Postal Ballot and the issues identified in the DSF report.
    8pm start.
    Live Stream Link:
    http://livestream.com/IndependenceLive/events/3976753
    _____________________

    I trust that Democratic Socialist Federation and Independence Live have already advised the SNP of their findings.

    I ask because I am not aware of the SNP itself having put in any complaint about postal ballot rigging in the referendum. I mean – if they haven’t, then there must be a reason, n’est-ce pas?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mary

    “If I call this ‘country’ a banana republic, which it is now, I am told that I hate my country!”
    ____________________

    Or at the very least you will be told that you have no idea of what a banana republic really is and that your perspective is severely unbalanced.

  • BrianPowell

    Adding unverified postal votes to to ‘normal’ votes seems specifically designed for fraud. Voting in NI requires identification, as far as I’m aware.

  • Mary

    Stinking cabbages by any other name.

    Bercow has recommended the reform which renames MPs’ expenses to ‘operating costs’. LOL

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