Is the 2015 General Election being rigged?

Just a few months ahead of the 2015 General Election (and some council elections, including here in Brighton) there’s something very worrying going on with the whole electoral process. For the 2014 European Parliament Elections last year I was on the electoral roll and used my vote as normal. However, last last year I discovered to my horror that I had been removed from the register here in Brighton. When I asked why, I was told by Brighton and Hove City Council (local councils oversee the election process) that I had to register afresh if I wanted to vote this May and that to do this I would have to supply personal details such as my National Insurance Number. This despite the fact that I have been resident at the same address in Brighton and have paid Council Tax at that address for two years.  I had received no communication from anyone to warn me that I was being removed from the elctoral roll and, as far as I’m aware, had I not asked I simply would not have been able to vote in the forthcoming elections.

I assumed that this was just some sort of administrative error, but I have since heard from many other people who have similarly been summarily kicked off the electoral roll for no obvious reason. One has to be wary of anecdotal evidence about things like this, but the issue seems to be a national one, related to a botched attempt to move to individual voter registration, as opposed to registration associated with a residential address. People move around much more than houses do, so there is much more information to track. The new system has been rushed through without the resources needed to support the vastly increased complexity of keeping track of individuals. For the 2015 elections over a million people who should be eligible to vote will will be absent from the electoral register, and this will mostly be the young and mobile (including students) and those in private rented accommodation in urban areas. The potential inlfluence of this effective disenfranchisement on the election result is obvious.

The more I read about this the more alarmed I have become. I am really starting to believe that this is a cynical attempt by vested interests to manipulate the outcome of the General Election, which will hinge on a relatively small number of key marginal seats where the votes of students and other young people could be crucial. It looks very sinister.

Anyone else had trouble getting on the Electoral Register? Please let me know through the Comments Box.

28 Responses to “Is the 2015 General Election being rigged?”

  1. We had to re-register in Derby, but we had to state if we wished to be removed from the ‘open’ register. So my cynicism is around people not realising that the have to make the positive effort (e-mail, phone call, letter) to be removed from the open register, thus avoiding their details being accessible to marketing companies. Can anyone reassure me otherwise?

  2. Nick Ayres Says:

    I moved in August and since have had to register twice. My housemate who also registered twice had to register a third time, and we’re still waiting confirmation of his status.

  3. Of course it’s being rigged. So far this government has:

    a) tried to re-draw electoral boundaries with very little sense to the new constituencies. This attempt at fixing things failed as the Lib Dems eventually voted against it. But if you take a look at the proposed constituency boundaries many of them had no sense at all.

    b) the change to the electoral registration process has lost over 1m voters from the register.

    c) the introduction of the massively misnamed “lobbying bill” has now stopped charities and trade unions campaigning during the election. Unlike in past elections charities and campaign groups cannot ask candidates if they support a particular policy position and then publicise their responses. No you did not read that incorrectly. They’ve muzzled the right for groups to campaign in the run up to an election – it’s profoundly anti democratic.

    d) Cameron said he wanted the TV debates but has now found as many excuses as possible to duck out of them. Again anti democratic.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      (b) is at the best poor, at the worst corrupt. In (d) the arguments cut both ways. But (a) was an attempt to de-rig a system that was already rigged. Do not assume that the status quo was fair.

      • I’ve never understood the logic (if there is any) of the constituency boundaries.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I presume (Peter) that it started off as the clumping of multiple church parishes together, county by county; and got tweaked from time to time so as to ensure that the votes of the two dominant parties at any given time were worth about the same in parliament.

      • telescoper Says:

        You would have thought that the constituencies would all be of similar size in terms of electorate, but they seem to very hugely.

  4. It’s not just about having equal electoral size. Constituencies should have some logical and practical geographic and administrative design so that MPs serve what looks to be a sensible area. Some of the proposed new constituencies were divided by rivers and other geographic features that meant parts were effectively cut off from each other. Some also were such a rag bag of bits from all over that they had no administrative or cultural sense to them.

    And I forgot an extra item:

    e) The Tories smuggled in a huge hike in the allowed electoral spending despite the Electoral Commission having big reservations. This huge hike only benefited them as they are the only party with huge coffers (swelled by the socially useless hedge funds and tax dodgers)
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/13/tories-david-cameron-buy-election-campaign-spending

    So, Peter, in answer to the question you pose in the title of this post: yes of course this election is being rigged.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Yup, still rigged: it took 33358 Labour voters to elect an MP in 2010, and 34979 to elect a Tory MP; a discrepancy of nearly 5%.

      • Well if this is number of votes cast then it’s not a fair comparison. If you have differential turnouts in constituencies then this will contribute to these figures. Plus part of this is due to many Tory MPs being elected with massive majorities. If this is your issue it is not constituency boundaries that should change to rectify it. Rather it is an argument for proportional representation.

        If you redraw boundaries based on votes cast as oppose to electorate size you are saying those who do not vote should be wholly disregarded worth respect to electorate size. That seems wrong.

        If you then change the electoral registration process to make it harder for people to register to vote you then make the situation worse.

        And a partisan point here: making it harder for voters to register disproportionately affects Labour voters.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The comment about Tories being elected with massive majorities cuts both ways: you feel your vote is pointless in any constituency where the result is near-certain. And if making it harder to vote disproportionately affects Labour voters who can’t be bothered to check, whose fault is that?

        Somewhat more constructively, the idea should be to try to move from where we are now to a fairer system, rather than to propose one ab initio,

      • The point about not being bothered to check is a bit unfair because many (including me) didn’t know they had to. In the past council tax payers would have been included automatically and nobody told me thus time things were different. It was an accident that I found out the situation.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        If well informed people like senior academics didn’t know then it’s not a partisan issue!

      • I know physicists look down on engineers, but even a (now former) engineer like me knows that you can’t determine a wider generalisation from just one data point😉

  5. Phillip Helbig Says:

    “hinge on a relatively small number of key marginal seats”

    Whatever the problems in this particular case, the quote above of course points to an inherent evil in the first-past-the-post system. Calling that democracy is only a step above calling elections where only one party is allowed democratic.

    Even if no system is perfect, many are much better than that used in the UK for national (and, presumably, for most sub-national) elections. (EP elections use PR.)

  6. Bryn Jones Says:

    I’ve been thrown off the electoral register twice in the past two years, and once off the list of council tax payers.

    I’ve been living at my current address for several years. I registered once again for the electoral register in the late summer or autumn of 2013. The local electoral office sent a letter in March 2014 listing the electors at my address: I had been removed and two spurious names added. This was corrected by re-registering. The spurious names were removed.

    Last autumn I was removed by the local council from the list of people liable from council tax. The council staff later explained that they had thought I had moved out.

    I re-registered for elections, as usual, in August 2014, doing it online. Several days ago I received a letter informing me that there were no electors at my address. I have attempted to re-register online and have written to the local electoral officer. A reply is awaited.

    This is all strange. It could be due to incompetence by the local authorities, but there could be some attempt at fraud.

  7. Biscotti Says:

    This is outrageous!
    I’ve been thrown off and just found out!
    I live in a shared house of 6 people and post can be tricky to manage but the last letter I remember seeing was the standard “any changes to the names listed here to vote” that we would get every few months. I was always on it so left it. Now I have left it far too late. It turns out only 2 in our house are still on the list. I had been registered for 6 years with no problem. Surely if it’s switching to individual registration then the letters should have been sent to each individual name on the list. as it stands I think it was addressed to “occupants” and has been lost in the swamp. I’m so gutted. I’m in Southwark.

  8. telescoper Says:

    I will not allow racist comments to be posted in this blog. You know who you are.

  9. I was told that i had copied my national insurance number wrong on to their registraition form. I was assured I was sent a letter however I never did recieve it. I was not the only on. Apparrently this happened to a number of prople and the electrol office in brighton told me i woul dneed to contact royal mail.

    I think it is stupid that in the age of e-mail they didnt just send it via this medium. its cheaper, its quicker and it guarrantees delivery.
    I used the electronic system to register, so i would expect to be contacted in the same way. Its a joke.

  10. Peter Laughton Says:

    So it’s happened that yet again I’m unable to vote. I registered to vote last year after filling in the form and had the appropriate confirmation from Teignbridge Council. Unbeknown to me a letter was sent to me in February of this year asking if I was still at that address – said letter was returned to the council without my knowledge with ‘not at this address’ on it – so I was deleted from the electoral list without my knowledge. I do wonder how many more people are in a similar position. At 59 I’ve only once ever been able to vote.

  11. of course it’s rigged the secret agents such as MI5 has Software to rig/fix online polls.so why not the general election with similar software.

  12. John Weston Says:

    It has always been fixed. I have no idea why you all seem surprised.
    You can even google how they fixed Scotland. You can see them doing it on videos!

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      No, that’s not true.

      Agents of candidates can send monitors to watch the counting of ballot papers at each table. Political parties have representatives at the count checking that the counters are acting correctly.

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