Former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sir Eric Pickles MP, was asked by the government last year to consider what further changes were needed to make the electoral system more secure. This was particularly in light of the 2015 Tower Hamlets election scandal that led to the disqualification of the elected mayor for a number of corrupt and illegal practices. Sir Eric's report has been published today, containing 50 detailed recommendations, about which BAFF has just one comment in connection with service voters.
Recommendation 22 is that "The option to permanently request a postal vote should be removed, and the option to apply for a postal vote for a specified period should be subject to a 3 year limit..."
This recommendation ("R22") would logically apply to the majority of voters, who are registered for one year at a time, but not to service voters, whose registration now lasts for five years.
If implemented, R22 would affect the increasing proportion of service personnel and husbands, wives or civil partners who are entitled to register as service voters, but choose to register as ordinary voters. But it would be a nonsense for service voters to be registered for five years but be expected to re-apply after three years if, like most service voters, they require a postal vote.
There is no surprise that service personnel did not figure prominently in a review concerned with electoral fraud. The review appears to have been very thorough otherwise, and is to be welcomed.
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