A PRINT industry boss today demanded tougher controls for the production and supply of election ballot papers – after a hard-hitting report said increased demand for postal voting had raised the risk of fraud and undermined confidence in the election process.
Angus Walker, business development director for Clayton West-based direct mail group Adare, claimed security surrounding the production and supply of ballot papers was often lax.
And he argued that even with the additional safeguards of signature and date of birth checks – introduced for this week’s local elections – the postal voting system remained “fraught with risk” of fraud.
Mr Walker said regulations should be to be tightened to match standards already enforced for suppliers producing sensitive financial or legal documents.
In the run-up to Thursday’s council elections, Adare has been delivering more than 3m ballot papers to local authorities across the country, including Rotherham Council and Newcastle City Council.
Mr Walker’s comments follow the report by the Joseph Rowntree Trust which claimed that the UK voting system was vulnerable to large-scale fraud.
The report said that measures to improve choice for voters – including wider use of electronic and postal votes – were “hitting the integrity of the electoral process” and that the benefits of postal and electronic voting in terms of increasing turnout had been exaggerated.
The trust has called for a big shake-up of the electoral system – including a demand for all voters to produce photographic ID, the introduction of “robust” systems for monitoring postal and proxy votes and restrictions on campaign spending by parties at constituency level.
It says elections in the UK fall short of international standards and claims the Government has failed to improve public confidence in elections. There have been at least 42 convictions for electoral fraud in the UK in the last seven years.
Mr Walker said: “Councils have been ill-equipped to deal with the explosion in demand for postal voting. The pressures they face to save money, added to the degree of flexibility afforded to individual Returning Officers means a market has emerged without regulation.”