Investigations have been launched into the spending returns of both lead campaigns in last year’s EU referendum, Stronger In and Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission watchdog has announced. New figures reveal that a total of more than £32 million was spent on the campaign, with the Leave side funded by donations totalling £16.4 million outgunning the Remain side’s £15.1 million. The spending returns show that the Brexit battle was the most expensive referendum ever fought in British political history, said the Commission. After its initial inspection of spending returns from both sides, the Commission found that neither Stronger In nor Vote Leave had submitted all the necessary invoices and receipts to back up their accounts. The watchdog also said details of suppliers were missing for some payments.
Articles about voting issues in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
United Kingdom: Politician accuses Russia of ‘corrupt involvement’ in UK elections amid hacking fears | International Business Times
A UK politician has claimed there is “clear evidence” unspecified Russian forces have directly interfered in British elections, going as far to argue that decisions at the upper echelon of the country’s security services have been “compromised” by Kremlin infiltration. “There is now clear evidence of Russian direct, corrupt involvement in elections in France, in Germany, in the United States of America, and I would argue also in this country,” said Chris Bryant MP, a Labour politician, in the House of Commons on 21 February. In his strongly-worded speech to a half-empty room, he continued: “Many believe that some of the highest level decisions affecting security in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in France and in the United States of America are now compromised by Russian infiltration.”
United Kingdom: Clear evidence Russia interfered in 2015 election, says former Labour minister | The Independent
There is “clear evidence” that Russia interfered directly in UK elections, a Labour former minister has said. Chris Bryant told Parliament some of the top-level decisions affecting security in Britain had also been “compromised by Russian infiltration”. The former Europe minister’s comments came after it emerged that political parties in the UK have approached the security agencies for help following a cyber attack during the 2015 British general election. “There is now clear evidence of Russian direct, corrupt involvement in elections in France, in Germany, in the United States of America, and I would argue also in this country,” said Mr Bryant. “Many believe that some of the highest level decisions affecting security in the United Kingdom, in Germany, in France and in the United States of America are now compromised by Russian infiltration.”
Elections to a new Northern Ireland assembly will take place on 2 March, James Brokenshire has announced. The Northern Ireland secretary was forced to call the poll after 5pm on Monday when it became clear there would be no 11th-hour deal to bring the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin together to save power sharing in the region. Brokenshire was obliged by law to declare an election date after the deadline this evening, drawning a curtain over nearly a decade of cross-community coalitions between unionists and nationalists. The present assembly will sit until 26 January, when it will be dissolved. The new election takes place just 10 months after the previous one, which resulted in a joint Sinn Féin-Democratic Unionist party government. The devolved administration fell after a row over a bungled green energy scheme and the Democratic Unionist first minister’s refusal to temporarily stand down from her post.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has accepted that an Assembly election in Northern Ireland is now “very likely”, following a series of meetings in Stormont on Thursday. The Stormont Assembly effectively collapsed on Monday after Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister in protest at DUP first minister Arlene Foster’s refusal to step aside temporarily while an inquiry took place into the “cash for ash” renewable heat incentive scheme. The joint terms of the office meant that DUP leader Arlene Foster also ceased to act as First Minister following Mr McGuiness’s resignation.
United Kingdom: Former MI6 chief warns over hacking risk to electronic voting in UK elections | Telegraph
A former head of MI6 has warned against switching elections to electronic voting because of the risk of hacking and cyber attacks. Sir John Sawers said the traditional method of pencil and paper voting in polling booths was more secure than electronic alternatives. The retired spy chief spoke after his successor recently warned that cyber attacks and attempts to subvert democracy by states like Russia pose a fundamental threat to British sovereignty. Fears of high tech meddling in polls have been heightened by American accusations that Kremlin-backed cyber gangs hacked US political organisations and leaked sensitive emails to deliberately undermine the presidential elections. All parliamentary and council elections in the UK are currently carried out with ballot papers, but a commission set up by the speaker, John Bercow, in 2015 called for secure online voting to be available by 2020.
United Kingdom: Online voting could leave British elections vulnerable to hacking, former MI6 head warns | The Independent
Adopting electronic voting systems could leave British elections vulnerable to cyber attack by other countries, the former head of MI6 has said. Sir John Sawers said traditional pencil and paper approaches to voting were “actually much more secure” – following allegations that the recent US presidential election was subject to hacking. “The more things that go online, the more susceptible you are to cyber attacks,” Sir John, who stepped down in 2014, said. “We need to have systems which are robust,” he said in an interview for the BBC documentary The New World: Axis of Power. “The only trouble is, the younger generation of people expect to be able to do things remotely and through electronic devices. “Bizarrely the stubby pencil and piece of paper that you put your cross on in the ballot box is actually much more secure than anything which is electronic.”
The British government said Tuesday that it would begin rolling out mandatory identity checks for voters, prompting a backlash from those who say the move could effectively disenfranchise millions. The controversy, with strong echoes of one that played out across the United States this year, turns on the question of whether identity checks are a reasonable tool to combat electoral fraud or are merely an attempt at voter suppression by another name. Until now, voters in every part of Britain except Northern Ireland have been allowed to vote without presenting an ID. But that will change under a pilot program announced Tuesday by Britain’s Conservative government. A photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, will be required in up to 18 different areas across England for local elections in 2018. If the program is successful, it could be expanded nationwide. Britain is next expected to hold national elections in 2020.
Millions of people may be disenfranchised by the government’s plans to trial asking for ID in order to vote, Labour has said. Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, raised concerns that 7.5% of the electorate may not have the right kind of identification in order to exercise their right to vote. “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the government,” she said on Tuesday. “However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote. “A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors – 7.5% of the electorate – would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.
United Kingdom: Voters in local elections will be required to show ID in anti-fraud trials | The Guardian
UK voters will have to take ID to the ballot box at local elections in pilot areas under new plans to combat electoral fraud. Chris Skidmore, minister for the constitution, announced the trials would start from 2018 after a report on voting fraud by Sir Eric Pickles, the anti-corruption tsar and former communities secretary. Ministers will also consider Pickles’ recommendations about measures to check nationality of voters, creating safe zones around polling stations to stop intimidation, and ending vote “harvesting”, in which postal votes are submitted in bulk. Some of the key recommendations under consideration include a ban on the handling of completed postal ballots by political campaigners, limiting it to family members or carers, and requiring people to reregister for postal votes every three years.