Reply To: Elections aftermath

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

A Watchdog that Cannot Watch is Just a Dog! While I really like dogs, the security of our votes and the integrity of our electoral system demands far more than passive tail wagging to credibly validate British democracy.

This is a Q&A Session with the Electoral Commission and it is rather lengthy, but supplies more definitive answers. Here follows the most recent set of questions laid out in my recent email to the Electoral Commission with their replies in italic; links they provided are embedded in the text. .

I remain deeply concerned about the stated total lack of oversight that you admitted to me in our recent phone conversation. Please correct me if I am wrong in my interpretation of what you revealed in our call and reassure me that there are adequate protections to secure the integrity of our electoral system.

1. You say that: The Electoral Commission does not maintain a publically available list showing which constituencies, throughout all areas of the UK, have outsourced all or part of their voter registration, postal vote management or other electoral services to which private companies. If there is a nationwide concern over one aspect of voting, say postal vote handling, you are honestly claiming that the Electoral Commission would have no knowledge of where that was being handled and by whom? This can only be described as a massive oversight or gross negligence.

2. On your own admission, there is absolutely zero Electoral Commission oversight of any of these vote management companies, their practices or any external monitoring to quantify or verify the integrity of the votes cast. This leaves the entire system wide open to blatant fraud whether it has been committed on this occasion or not. That’s a bit like advertising the combination for the safe and trusting that no unauthorized person will take money from it!

3. Despite restrictions on employees of such companies having political affiliations or any conflicts of interest, there have been well documented, potentially very significant, conflicts of interest at the senior management level of Idox that have gone unchallenged or corrected by the Electoral Commission for years: is this of no concern to you?

“Questions 1, 2, and 3.
As mentioned in my previous email, the handling of the postal ballot packs (distribution, retrieval, verification etc.) is a matter for the (acting) Returning Officers at the local authorities. We have no remit in regards to the conduct of local authorities, outside of providing advice and guidance, and therefore you will need to contact the electoral services directly and raise your concern with them.
The process for managing returned postal ballot packs is provided for in law. Most Returning Officers use electoral management software systems to support them with the process. The procurement of any electoral management software, such as IDOX, is a matter for the Returning Officer and they must ensure that any system enables them to meet all legislative requirements. The Commission has no role in the procurement or quality assurance of any such software. Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers must ensure they comply with Electoral Commission Performance Standards which are laid before Parliament, as such, they needs to ensure any software they use is able to comply with these standards.

Whilst software is often used by individual Returning Officers to verify the personal identifiers (signature and date of birth) that are required to be returned as part of a valid postal ballot pack, the counting of the postal ballot papers themselves is carried out manually, there would also be manual adjudication should the software be unable to match any personal identifiers during the verification process. Once the personal identifiers have been verified, ballot papers must be securely stored by the Returning Officer and transported to the count centre, where they are counted along with all other ballot papers completed in the polling stations.”

4. There is no oversight of the Electoral Registration process to insure that this does not target disenfranchise certain minority communities or randomly exclude the legitimate registration of those who meet deadline requirements. This obvious flaw has lead to complaints of large numbers of people excluded or wrongly included in the election.

5. There is no simple verification process that would allow potential voters to easily check if their voter registration is in order. This is an easily avoidable problem that conveniently obscures the number of newly registered voters. There is no logical reason that this information should not be readily available to the public along with accurate statistics on the actual new voter applications. This justifies the excuse that the huge surge in registration will include many who were already registered when in fact there is no legitimate reason to obscure the actual new registration data.

Questions 4 and 5.
Electoral registration is undertaken by the Electoral Registration Officers at the local authorities. The Commission has provided advice to government to improve the system, including providing a mechanism for EROs to compare information about electoral register entries across all 381 authority’s which would help to further improve the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers, however the Commission holds no legislative power and therefore cannot enact these changes.

6. After we cast our vote, can the Electoral Commission guarantee that there is a reliable “Chain of Custody” security guarantee that the Electoral Commission enforces on behalf of the voting public with regard to the Idox Postal Vote Managed Service or any other similar outsourced service offered by any alternative vote management company.

7. Rumours persist about “sampling” of the postal votes or viewing a percentage of the postal votes sent in to gain prior knowledge of the result. These rumours are supported by announcements made by candidates and the BBC in what is clearly a violation of the law that is repeatedly ignored with impunity. This continues to happen due to lack of oversight and subsequent lack of prosecution. People could place bets and win money based on this data!

Questions 6 and 7.
As mentioned above, the handling of the postal ballot packs (distribution, retrieval, verification etc.) is a matter for the (acting) Returning Officers at the local authorities. Postal vote opening sessions are run by the (Acting) Returning Officer for each election and their electoral services team. Candidates, their election agents and a person appointed by a candidate to attend in place of their election agents are entitled to attend the opening of returned postal votes. Additionally, candidates may appoint postal voting agents to attend openings on their behalf. Anyone attending a postal vote opening session has a duty to maintain secrecy. Ballot papers will be kept face down throughout a postal vote opening session. Anyone attending an opening session must not attempt to see how individual ballot papers have been marked and must not keep a tally of how ballot papers have been marked.

Our guidance for candidates and agents contains more information about the postal vote opening session process, and the role of observers. It may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed. Anyone with information to suggest this has happened should report it immediately to the police. More information on the law can be found here.”

8. Violations of the law, even repeated violations of the “Representation of the Peoples Act” are not the responsibility of the Electoral Commission and must be reported to the police who will be equally dismissive!

9. Violations of the Purdah laws are not the responsibility of the Electoral Commission and must be reported to other regulators who will be equally dismissive. Breaches of the Purdah laws have become so routine and so frequent that these regulations to equalize the political landscape have become totally worthless on our path to dictatorship!

10. The documented alarming undue influence of lobbyists on behalf of foreign powers is of no concern at the Electoral Commission in their efforts to protect the dubious effort of maintaining integrity in UK elections within the crumbling facade of British democracy. The unjustified furore over anti-Semitism that drowned out any possibility of presenting progressive policy issues to the UK public was contrived and promoted by the well funded Zionist lobby groups in order to protect the Israeli government from criticism at the expense of British voter’s priorities and interests.

“Questions 8, 9, and 10.
All of these areas fall outside the remit of the Commission and as such I can neither comment on them or how they are handled by the respective authority/department. However, as previously mentioned, if you have evidence that an offence has been committed you should report this to the police immediately.”

11. Violations of Campaign Finance Restrictions will warrant some type of investigation, handed over to the police, with the potential for cursory fines to be handed down. No matter how egregious the violations are they make absolutely no difference to the unfairly rigged result obtained by cheating, why? This has become the acceptable expense of getting caught which is factored into the plan; it in no way redresses the crime that has been committed.

“Question 11.
The only way to challenge the result of an Election is through an Election petition. This is define in electoral law and as mentioned above, the electoral Commission holds not legislative power and as such cannot enact any changes to legislation. More information on the election petition process can be found on page 5 onwards here.”

12. Beyond the last token intervention, I see precious little justification for the existence of our paper tiger, the so called “Electoral Commission.” Please elaborate on any aspect of what the Electoral Commission does that might help to protect the safety and integrity of our voting process here in the UK.

“Question 12.
As mentioned in my previous email, the Commission is an independent body set up by UK Parliament. Our remit is defined in the Political Party, Referendums and Elections Act 2000. We regulate party and election finance and provide guidance to Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers. Furthermore, the Commission produced reports on a number of aspects in regards to elections, conducts an observer scheme to open up the democratic process and brings to the fore discussions around changing electoral law. If you wish to view in more detail the work that we do, you can view this on the Electoral Commissions website. Under the ‘who we are and what we do’ tab.”

Please confirm or deny the accuracy of all of these statements and wherever appropriate give the Electoral Commission’s justification for the zero oversight, hands off, negligent policy of absolute blind faith trust. A regulatory system designed with inbuilt weaknesses and flaws, extremely limited oversight and minimal penalties for violations offers a very strong invitation to commit fraud with impunity. A regulator that has no teeth functions as a purely cosmetic means of duping the public into thinking that their votes count and our elections are not rigged.

The sheer vagueness of the Electoral Commission’s oversight responsibility parameters and the admitted total lack of control over voter registration data further complicates determining whether fraud has been committed on this particular occasion or not. Most people in the UK did not vote for the Tories with or without the possibility of rigged results, but there is little chance of exposing the truth by relying on the Electoral Commission to function as an effective watchdog protecting our democracy.

That the privatization of our electoral system was instituted with minimal oversight to safeguard our votes is extremely alarming. Very few people in the UK know about this privatization or when it took place; it represents the dismantling of our democracy by stealth as we cannot even determine which constituencies outsource which services This was encouraged and tolerated by a government pledging to introduce voter ID requirements to fix a problem that is virtually nonexistent by disenfranchising over three million UK voters.

In combination these factors are destroying any remaining confidence in our electoral system. There is a very strong possibility that the highly problematic, easily hackable, electronic voting machines will be quietly introduced to make control of vote counting easy and predictable. Relying on these machines without a paper verification as a backup will enable future elections to be easily flipped just has been demonstrated throughout the US. With this powerful tool in place to corrupt the vote a government determined to cling to power despite growing opposition will be unstoppable.

For your information, I am not a member of the Labour Party and I did not vote Labour in this last Election; I am just a deeply concerned citizen who cares passionately about the truth, transparency and the integrity of our democracy. Please give this matter your most urgent attention and reply answering all of my questions ASAP as I have become increasingly worried about the results of this election and it has cast doubt over the validity of past votes including the disastrous EU Referendum. An inability to elaborate clearly on these points will invite further suspicion that this election was rigged. I will look forward to a swift reply…

It took them just three working days for them to get back to me which is not bad at all. On transparency and their willingness to continue engaging in this area of enquiry they did well by supplying a direct phone line and a specific person to contact; info I will not print here for reasons of discretion. From this exchange I got the distinct feeling that although they would like to have greater powers of oversight their hands are tied by government. As I said at the start “A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog!” We should petition to change that shortcoming ASAP>