CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS – POSTAL VOTING FRAUD – 27 May 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: Judging by his statement the Minister [Christopher Leslie] will be assessing the success or otherwise of this experiment according to whether turnout goes up. As someone who, 20 years ago, worked with other Conservatives, Liberals and the then Social Democrats to try to restore integrity to trade union ballot practices, may I assure the hon. Gentleman that the measure of whether an election has integrity is not the level of the turnout? If turnout goes up it is often a sign that there has been multiple voting, cheating, ballot stuffing and abuse in general. How confident is the Minister that when these elections are over there will not be a great many reports about abuses?

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr Christopher Leslie): I am really disappointed with the hon. Gentleman. Saying that a higher turnout is a sign of malpractice is beyond reality. He needs to appreciate the track record of previous postal pilots; they all proved successful in raising the electorate's participation, and that will happen again in these elections. The Electoral Commission will be undertaking an investigation and review of how the pilots work and, as I said, it will report in September.]

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