Destruction of Evidence 72

We are getting to the time when the postal ballots are mixed in unidentifiably with other ballots before counting. This is on the instruction of the electoral commission. This destroys all evidence of fraud – if you get batches of hundreds of postal ballots all for the same candidate, or if the balance of postal votes is vastly different from the balance of secret ballots, there is no way of observing it.

I have tried again and again to discover any rationale for this mixing in, other than the facilitation of fraud. I asked the Electoral Commission when I was a candidate, and was told it was an additional precaution against individual votes being identified. That is complete nonsense – there is no way that counting the postal ballots separately would enable you to identify individuals.

Undoubtedly some readers of this blog will be observers at various counts. Ask the returning officer or their staff at what stage the postal ballots are mixed in unidentifiably, how, and why. I should be most interested to see reports of the responses. If we see a substantial difference between Labour’s performance in Scotland and the opinion polls, this is how it will be achieved.

72 thoughts on “Destruction of Evidence

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  • writeon

    Craig, you’re right of course. I believe Stalin used to joke that he was in favour of elections, as long as he did the counting! Those were the days.

  • Les Cunningham

    I have read somewhere that it was specified that postal ballots should be mixed in with the others because it was originally intended that postal voting should only be used by people who were unable to get to a polling station because of disability or poor health. As it was anticipated that the number of postal votes might be very small, it was felt that there was indeed a risk that postal ballots might occasionally not be truly secret. However, with the numbers voting by post, this argument is now completely invalid, and it would make more sense for postal ballots to be counted separately.

    However, it is possible that a difference in voting patterns may arise because of differences in the demographics of those voting by post and those who vote in person. The first are likely to be on average older, and opinion polls often show that older people are more likely to vote (small ‘c’) conservatively.

    The best check would be if a small random sample of people who are recorded as having voted by post were contacted and asked to confirm that they had in fact voted – there would be no need to ask how they had voted.

  • craig Post author


    You would indeed expect a small difference in the way postal ballots fell, but only a small one. If it were a large difference that would rightly set off alarm bells. The best change would be to go back to the days when only the sick or those serving abroad got a postal vote.

  • eddie-g

    I’ll be very interested to see how the exit polls are reported – what effort the news media makes to separate out the England and Wales figures, from the Scotland figures.

    Opinion polls have been close to meaningless unless you’ve gone through this exercise; SNP support is diluted in national polls, and the size of the SNP swing in Scotland is going to determine the fate of at least a dozen seats, most definitely including Jim Murphy’s.

  • Iain Lawson

    You are 100% correct. Postal votes counted separately. The only reason they are not that I can think of is to facilitate state sponsored fraud as required.

  • eddie-g

    Re. postal ballots, I’d be in favour of treating them like they treat provisional or potentially spoiled ballots in many other countries.

    In other words, you count first how many postal ballots were cast. If the count of the regular ballots gives any candidate a win regardless of what’s in the postal ballots, you don’t bother counting them. In a close election, then they come into play – and if during that count, there is a ridiculous skew or pattern of votes, then you kick off an electoral fraud investigation.

    FPTP has its limitations, but we can use its simplicity to an advantage – and significantly increase the likelihood that the postal ballot stuffers get found out.

  • Paul Cochrane

    My wife, after 18 years of constant voting, went to the booth to be told she had been de-registered. A few phone calls later and it is because there were differences between the register and her DWP file.

  • lysias

    If recipients of a certain kind of benefit disproportionately favor a certain party, creating discrepancies in their files could be an effective way to skew the results of an election. The Republican Party has played tricks like that many times, most notably in Florida in 2000.

  • Aidworker1

    I’m just back from the Polling Centre.

    I never understood how it could be a private vote when all the forms are numbered and they write your name against the form?

    Sorry I couldn’t vote for Nicola Sturgeon in South London…

  • fedup

    increase the likelihood that the postal ballot stuffers get found out.

    He who stuffs the boxes also takes away from the boxes! Countfucius him say

  • G H Graham

    I posted my vote about 10 days ago and yet still unable to login to the website suggested by Perth & Kinross Council so that I could confirm that my vote has at least been received.

    The website to the best of my knowledge is –

    Can anyone verify that I have the correct domain name and if anyone else is having similar difficulty?

  • fedup

    I never understood how it could be a private vote when all the forms are numbered and they write your name against the form?

    That is another slogan that sounds good, but really is the smoke cover for the nefarious stuffing brigades to get on with it.

    They can chase each ballot very easily and quickly.

  • Chris

    On the first episode of ballot monkeys (a comedy) there was a little talk from the labour co-ordinator “and if they’re Bangladeshi, just speak to the head of the family, no point speaking to the others. And I didn’t say that!!”

    Certain groups have delivered groups of votes for the parties in the past. The tories had the care homes wrapped up, so nuTory relaxed the rules so that instead of postal votes being for people who can’t make it to the ballot box it was for anyone. Doesn’t this make the garnering of block votes so much easier.

  • fedup

    Idox group is a supplier of software solutions and services to the UK public sector

  • CanSpeccy

    Does it really matter how the result is fixed? Campaign funding, bribes, vote fraud, it makes no difference. The point is the result will be fixed one way or another to insure that whoever wins, “left,” “right” or “center,” serves the money power, while the Scotch separatists, if they get the chance, will submit the Scottish people to the will of Brussels, which also serves the money-power.

    Western democracy is a joke that the voting public never get.

  • MJ

    “if the balance of postal votes is vastly different from the balance of secret ballots, there is no way of observing it”

    There is. If the fraud is significant exit polls will emit a flashing red light.

  • G H Graham

    And here’s the postal vote opening process according to guidelines provided by Electoral Commission. Points 10 & 11 appear to be an attempt to prevent fraud.

    1. Postal votes are brought to the opening session in ballot boxes

    2. The covering envelopes (envelope B) are taken out and counted

    3. The total number of covering envelopes is entered onto a form

    4. Covering envelopes (envelope B) are divided between teams of opening staff

    5. Staff open each covering envelope (envelope B) and remove the postal voting statement and the sealed ballot paper envelope (envelope A)

    6. Staff check that the numbers on the postal voting statement matches the numbers on envelope A

    7. If numbers match, staff check that the elector has signed the statement and given a date of birth

    8. Postal voting statements without a signature or date of birth cause the ballot to be rejected. All parts of the ballot pack are marked ‘rejected’, paper-clipped together and placed in a receptacle for rejected votes

    9. A very small number of voters do not need to sign their postal voting statement. These voters will have been granted a waiver because they are unable to sign or provide a consistent signature due to a disability or an inability to read or write. Election

    10. If the statement or ballot paper envelope is missing, or the numbers on the statement and ballot paper envelope do not match, the document(s) are set aside, recorded and stored in secure packets

    11. The Returning Officer must set aside at least 20% of postal votes to verify personal identifiers

    12. The Returning Officer must be satisfied that the personal identifiers on at least 20% of statements (as set aside in step 10) match those on the electors’ original applications

    13. Following verification of identifiers, postal voting statements are removed from the tables

    14. Staff open the ballot paper envelopes (envelope A) and remove the ballot papers

    15. Staff check that the number on the back of the ballot papers matches the numbers on the ballot paper envelope (envelope A)
    16. Valid ballot papers (not the votes) are counted and the total number is recorded

    17. All valid ballot papers are placed into ballot boxes and stored securely before being delivered to the count venue after the close of poll

    18. The Returning Officer will match up postal voting documents received separately, provided the statement is completed correctly and received by the close of poll.

  • glenn

    The excuse that the ballot is extra-extra secret because they mix in postal votes so well, is absolute crap and nothing but. There wouldn’t be a unique number on each ballot paper, cross-referenced with your details on their eligible voters lists. What’s done with that information afterwards, I wonder? Asking the people at the voting station about this never gets you anywhere, and I don’t want to give poll workers a hard time about secret ballots.

    As it happens, I did ask the returning officer why they had to be mixed in before any votes were counted. This was at the last election, where I was invigilating. He looked rather pained for a moment, then said, “Those are our instructions.”

    It would have been reasonably easy to check – I went around watching the counters, and tallying votes for the respective candidates. My samples pretty much matched the final result. It would have been quite possible for me (or any invigilator) to do the same for the postal ballots, were they not indistinguishable from the rest.

  • Mary

    O/T Lord Gill, Scotland’s senior judge and the subject of Craig’s April piece ‘Lord Gill the Flouncing Fool’ is to retire on 31 May. BBC News.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “If we see a substantial difference between Labour’s performance in Scotland and the opinion polls, this is how it will be achieved.”


    With such a touching faith in the accuracy of opinion polls, it’s a wonder that you are a supporter of actual elections.

    Why bother with elections?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    You obviously belong to the Athenian school of Lysias, who believes that a random sample of 650 people will accurately reflect the composition of the entire population. In your case, you seem to believe that a sample of 1200 people taking part in an opinion poll will accurately reflect the voting intentions of the entire population.

  • lysias

    Also OT, Scots police put on spot in Janner probe: CHILD abuse campaigners are calling for an explanation why allegations against Lord Janner were not investigated by Scottish police:

    One of the Labour peer’s alleged victims claims the MP took him on a tour of Scotland in the early 1970s during which he was subjected to serious sexual assaults.

    He made a report at an Edinburgh police station in 1991 but the Crown Office yesterday confirmed they have never been notified.

    It raises fears that Scottish officers may have been ordered to drop any investigation into the politician, like their counterparts south of the Border.

    Kelvyn Ashby, a former detective inspector in Leicester, has revealed that senior officers forced him to shelve his inquiry into Lord Janner.

    Last night, Mr Ashby said the “holiday” took place over “six or seven days” between 1972 and 1974 – although he could no longer remember the specific details.

    “My only recollection is that we verified that the tour took place – I think it was some sort of official tour for the Labour party,” he said.

    “It must have been quite a rarity for an English parliamentarian to be going on a tour of Scotland.”

    He insisted that his officers would have contacted the relevant Scottish force to keep them fully updated about any alleged crimes committed in their jurisdiction.

  • Observer

    So who and how did they work out that there was a world record 91.5% turnout of registered postal voters during the indyref?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    G H Graham

    Thank you for that useful post about procedure.

    I am pleased to see that there is at least one poster on here who is prepared to do some hard graft to bring facts to our attention as opposed to leaping straight into a rant and/or dire predictions of fraud.

  • Chris

    “There is. If the fraud is significant exit polls will emit a flashing red light.”

    No. They will say the exit polls were wrong. Voters don’t want to believe in fraud, they want their vote to count and let ‘democracy’ take it on. So if someone says the exit polls and end results don’t match, then it’s because they’re too embaressed to tell the truth or suddenly decided to lie that your.

    Exit polls are random(ish) samples and are no way to attempt to measure voters fraud.

  • Observer

    For starters let us at least have postal voter registrations as a percentage of total voter registration for all key constituencies. We may then know lf Anon1s cousin Jack Straw jnr in Blackburn (35%) and muesli Lutfur in Tower Hamlets (250%?!) are up to no good. Any statisticians out there?

  • lysias

    No. They will say the exit polls were wrong.

    That’s exactly what they said after the U.S. presidential election of 2004, when there were spectacular discrepancies between the exit polls (before they got around to “correcting” them) and the officially reported results.

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