Electoral Commission data shows voter fraud is uncommon in the UK

Electoral Commission data shows voter fraud is uncommon in the U.K.

By: arron williams&
May 3 2023

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Electoral Commission data shows voter fraud is uncommon in the U.K.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

As elections approach, claims of widespread voter fraud resurface in an attempt to undermine public faith in elections. However, cases of alleged voter fraud in the U.K. are minimal, and there is no evidence electoral fraud is a major, widespread, or re-occurring problem. Logically Facts has created this short guide to explain why voter fraud is uncommon, and what Electoral Commission data shows.

What is voter fraud?

Electoral fraud, or voter fraud, is the illegal interference and attempt to cheat an election and is considered a serious crime. As explained by the Electoral Commission, electoral fraud can include:

  • registering to vote under a false name or without someone's consent
  • influencing someone to vote against their will
  • impersonating someone and using their vote
  • making false statements about the personal character of a candidate
  • offering an incentive to someone to get them to vote, to vote a certain way, or to stop them from voting
  • interfering with postal votes
  • including false statements or signatures on a candidate's nomination forms

How widespread is voter fraud in the U.K.?

Data on voter fraud in the U.K. is reported on and published by the Electoral Commission.

This data shows the number of alleged electoral fraud cases reported by police between 2017 and 2022. The figures show no evidence of large-scale voter fraud in the U.K., with just 1,386 reports between 2018 and 2022. In local and general elections in this period, there were between 45 and 49 million registered voters, meaning cases of alleged voter fraud are negligible compared to the number of voters. Furthermore, out of all the alleged electoral fraud cases, only nine saw convictions, with six cautions issued. Most cases were resolved locally or resulted in no police action due to insufficient evidence.

How is this data collected?

The Electoral Commission told Logically Facts:

"The Commission does not have a direct role in investigating allegations of electoral fraud; this is carried out by the police. Every police force in the U.K. has an identified single point of contact officer who leads on election-related allegations. Throughout the year, we also collect data from all police forces across the U.K. on allegations of electoral fraud that they receive and investigate."

This data is available on the Commission's website, as is further detail regarding electoral fraud allegations.

Postal votes and voter fraud

A common concern of postal voting is that this method can be more at risk of electoral fraud than other forms of voting. At the 2019 Brexit Party launch event, Nigel Farage stated that the postal voting system is "something that has been totally abused since it was opened up nearly 20 years ago." However, the Electoral Commission refutes this, stating that "Postal voting is a safe way of voting, and there are security measures in place."

Out of the 1,386 reports of alleged voter fraud cases between 2018 and 2022, only 70 were related to postal fraud. Out of those 70, the majority were locally resolved or had no further action taken. Only five cases went further: two were under investigation, one went to court, one was acquitted, and another resulted in a caution. Numerically, postal voter fraud makes up only 5.05 percent of electoral fraud cases.

A 2019 report by Sky News also used evidence from the Electoral Commission to address Farage's claims about postal voter fraud and found that since 1998, records show only 9 convictions for postal voter fraud. They further stated that in 2017, "there were only 22 allegations of postal fraud, despite the fact that 8.4 million votes were cast this way, and none ended in convictions."

Despite concerns that postal votes may be at risk of large-scale voter fraud, there is no evidence that this is an issue or compromises election integrity.

How does this relate to voter ID?

The Conservative Party introduced the new voter ID requirement as a vow to "tackle every aspect of electoral fraud." While voter ID aims to reduce electoral fraud, as shown by data from the Electoral Commission, there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the U.K. The requirement for voter ID will be active in the May 4 local elections and frequent discussions about voter fraud have emerged in the build-up. For more information about Voter ID, see Logically Facts' Voter ID toolkit.

(This article was updated on April 24, 2024)

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