United Kingdom

Articles about voting issues in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

United Kingdom: Russia used a network of 150,000 Twitter accounts to meddle in Brexit | Business Insider

Twitter accounts based in Russia posted 45,000 tweets about Brexit within the space of 48 hours during last year’s referendum on EU membership, an investigation commissioned by The Times has found. Data scientists at the University of Swansea and University of California, Berkeley found that over 150,000 accounts based in Russia posted content relating to Brexit in the days leading up to voting day on June 23, 2016. These accounts had previously focused on issues like Russia’s annexation of Crimea, before focusing their attention on the Brexit referendum, with the majority of tweets seen by the Times encouraging people to vote Leave. Read More

United Kingdom: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows | The Guardian

Concern about Russian influence in British politics has intensified as it emerged that more than 400 fake Twitter accounts believed to be run from St Petersburg published posts about Brexit. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified 419 accounts operating from the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) attempting to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US. One of the accounts run from the Kremlin-linked operation attempted to stir anti-Islamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in March in a bogus post claiming a Muslim woman ignored victims – a claim that was highlighted by mainstream media outlets including Mail Online and the Sun. Read More

United Kingdom: Electoral Commission investigates Brexit campaign funding amid speculation of Russian meddling | Reuters

Britain’s Electoral Commission is investigating whether a leading anti-EU campaigner breached referendum finance rules, after speculation mounted that Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote. Arron Banks, a major donor to the anti-EU campaign who was pictured with Donald Trump and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage outside a gilded elevator soon after Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential election victory, denied the allegations. The Electoral Commission, which is already looking at whether Banks’ pro-Brexit Leave.EU group received any impermissible donations, said its new investigation would examine whether he was the true source of loans to a campaigner. Read More

United Kingdom: Theresa May accuses Russia of interfering in elections and fake news | The Guardian

Theresa May has accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an extraordinary attack on its attempts to “weaponise information” in order to sow discord in the west. The prime minister spoke out against “the scale and nature” of Russia’s actions during an address at the lord mayor’s banquet, saying it was “threatening the international order on which we all depend”. Listing Russia’s attempts to undermine western institutions in recent years, she said: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us. “The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and work with our allies to do likewise.” Read More

United Kingdom: Elections watchdog pushes for action to help disabled voters | The Guardian

Some disabled people were denied their vote at June’s general election because they were turned away at the polling station or were unable to get inside, a report says. The Electoral Commission revealed that 72% of voters with disabilities believed the 8 June poll was well run, considerably fewer than the 80% recorded among those without disabilities. In a survey of more than 3,500 voters, the commission heard complaints from disabled people that voting literature was difficult to read or understand and that polling stations were hard to access. Some were unaware they could take someone with them to help them cast their ballot or could ask polling station staff to assist. The report recorded complaints that polling booths were too narrow for wheelchairs; noise and flickering lights caused anxiety for some disabled voters; staff did not offer tactile voting devices or did not know how to use them; and disabled people were unable to vote in secret. Read More

United Kingdom: Brexit, the ministers, the professor and the spy: how Russia pulls strings in UK | The Guardian

On “or about” 25 April 2016, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign team emailed his line manager with good news. His efforts to make contact with the highest levels of power in Moscow had borne fruit: “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr Trump to meet him when he is ready.” This was George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign who was arrested by the FBI in July, it was revealed last week, after lying about a series of meetings with a man the FBI described as “a professor based in London”. The next sentence in his email added a line of explanation: “The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral cities’.” The Papadopoulos indictment is a riveting read – a sober, tautly worded document whose contents may have exploded across the news cycle like a dirty bomb, but which sticks to the facts. In doing so, it could provide not just evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime, but also the first cold, hard evidence of Britain’s central role. Read More

United Kingdom: MPs to debate bill to reduce voting age to 16 | The Guardian

MPs are to debate a bill aiming to reduce the voting age to 16, with the cross-party supporters of the measure arguing it is a long-overdue idea which would boost involvement in politics. The proposal is a private member’s bill, introduced by Labour MP Jim McMahon, and thus has relatively little chance of finding enough parliamentary time to become law, not least as the government does not back the idea. But it has not just official support from Labour, but also backing from the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens, with the hope that McMahon’s bill could further push the idea on to the political landscape. The bill, officially titled the representation of the people (young people’s enfranchisement and education) bill, will receive its second reading on Friday, the initial opportunity for MPs to debate an idea. Read More

United Kingdom: Human rights lawyer: prisoner votes plan is ‘cynical’ | BBC News

A lawyer for prisoners seeking the vote has called leaked government plans to enfranchise some inmates a “cynical” attempt to do the minimum required. Sean Humber, a partner at Leigh Day, said the reported proposals were likely to affect just a few hundred people.
According to the Sunday Times, prisoners sentenced to less than a year and with the right to day release could be allowed to return home to vote. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on “speculation”. Currently, prisoners are not eligible to be included in the register of electors, except for unconvicted prisoners on remand – those in custody pending trial – and those who were sent to prison for contempt of court or for not paying a fine. Read More

United Kingdom: Government reportedly planning to allow some prisoners to vote | The Guardian

The UK government is reportedly to scrap its blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote, 12 years after the European court of human rights ruled that it was unlawful. Britain has ignored a series of judgments by European courts since 2005, maintaining that it is a matter for parliament to decide. But the government is planning to end its long-running defiance by allowing prisoners serving a sentence of less than a year who are let out on day release to be allowed to go home to vote, according to the Sunday Times. The newspaper said the decision had been made by David Lidington, the justice secretary, who circulated plans to ministers last week. The paper said it would affect hundreds of prisoners and quoted a senior government source as saying: “This will only apply to a small number of people who remain on the electoral roll and are let out on day release. These are not murderers and rapists but prisoners who are serving less than a year who remain on the electoral roll. No one will be allowed to register to vote if they are still behind bars.” Read More

United Kingdom: ‘Fake news’ inquiry asks Facebook to check for Russian influence in UK | The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to search for evidence that Russia-linked Facebook accounts were used to interfere in the EU referendum and the general election as part of a parliamentary inquiry into “fake news”. Damian Collins, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, has written to the Facebook founder after suspicions that Russian “actors” used the platform to interfere in British politics. Facebook has 32 million users in Britain. Similar evidence on the 2016 US presidential election has already been supplied by Facebook to several US Senate committees, including the Senate intelligence committee, before a hearing with legal representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google on 1 November in Washington DC. Facebook in the US disclosed last month that an influence operation that appeared to be based in Russia spent $100,000 (£75,000) on adverts to promote divisive political and social messages over a two-year period. In a letter to Zuckerberg sent on Thursday, Collins wrote that the committee was investigating the phenomenon of fake news. Read More