This site has long called for tougher action against election fraud. The excellent Peter Golds has suggested six ways of taking it. The Government has pursued one of them enthusiastically – individual voter registration. It has done nothing about one of the most important: voter identity proof.
At any rate, Conservative Ministers are evidently sensitive to the problem, because £500,000 is to be spent targeting the problem during the run-up to May. It will be spent in 16 problem areas identified by the Electoral Commission.
We’ve listed them before on this site, but here we go again: Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Burnley, Calderdale, Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Slough, Tower Hamlets, Walsall, and Woking.
All have a significant proportion of South Asian origin and, as the Commission itself has confirmed, there’s a strong link between these communities and election fraud. Cllr Golds is himself a veteran of the struggles over electoral propriety in Tower Hamlets (or the lack of it, as you prefer).
The £500,000 is part of a package designed to improve the electoral register. Unsurprisingly, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers have clashed over where the money should go. Nick Clegg has stressed registering students, the Conservatives overseas voters.
He briefed the Guardian last month that he was winning. But the final package sees support for both these causes, as well as for improving voter turnout among under-represented groups and armed forces personnel.
Conservative sources say that the Party has always been determined to treat all groups fairly. At any rate, Sam Gyimah, the Conservative Minister responsible in the Clegg-led Cabinet Office Ministerial team, has clearly been fighting the good fight.
The text of a written statement from the Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t mention the F-word at all. It says that the new money will be used “to support efforts to boost confidence in the integrity of the electoral process in areas where a number of allegations of impropriety have been made in the past”.