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Oliver Heald, Shadow Constitutional Affairs spokesman has released the
Conservative Party’s proposals for reform of electoral law.

He has identified the emergence of "institutional instability" in the
conduct of elections caused by the Blair regime’s desire to "modernise" the
voting system and its various gimmicks to boost turnout.  This is the Party’s
official submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life which is currently investigating political parties.
 
Heald’s shopping list covers individual voter registration (to curb postal
vote fraud); written identification of voters at polling stations (to stamp out
‘personation’); and a tightening of the role and remit of the Electoral
Commission.    He wants the Commission to be subject to greater scrutiny by
Parliament, with a duty to aim for integrity of the result rather than an
increase in turnout, and it should be divorced from executive functions such as
running electronic electoral rolls.
 
It is undoubtedly right that Blair’s tinkering around with the electoral
process has been a disaster, with the slack procedures around postal votes in
particular being a scandal.  We used to pride ourselves on British democracy but
recent events have brought certain results into question (I shan’t supply links
to stories on this – there’s too many – and m’learned friend is passing me a
note not to name names or places.) 
 
These proposals have a basic common sense to them.  However, I don’t share
the enthusiasm for the Electoral Commission – which is a rather useless quango
producing unread and unreadable reports and adding nothing to what happened
before.  Why not just scrap it?  The suggestion for identification at polling
stations is also sound – but how long before Blunkett seizes it as another
excuse for ID Cards?

William Norton

15 comments for: “Institutional Instability” at the ballot box

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