United Kingdom

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

United Kingdom: “Highly likely” cross-government cell will be used to monitor interference and threats if election called | Derek du Preez/Diginomica

Senior civil servants giving evidence to the House of Lords Committee on Democracy and Digital Technology today gave insight into cross-Government work being carried out to monitor interference, disinformation and threats during elections – including the creation of an ‘election cell’ on the day of voting. Natalie Bodek, the acting deputy director of the elections division within the Cabinet Office, and Sarah Connolly, director of security and online harms at DCMS, both shared insights into how the government is collaborating across departments and agencies, as well as with social media giants, to monitor interference. Defending democracy from misinformation and digital interference has become a huge area of concern for governments across the world. Whilst no evidence has been found of online foreign interference in UK elections, it has been highlighted as a top priority by senior politicians and experts. Evidence on the topic has been collected by Parliamentary committees for some time now. A Commons Select Committee recently said that the “UK is clearly vulnerable to covert digital influence campaigns”.

Full Article: “Highly likely” cross-government cell will be used to monitor interference and threats if election called.

United Kingdom: Subcontractor’s track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral | Kat Hall/The Register

Concerns have been raised over a key supplier of an e-counting system for the London Mayoral elections in 2020. The contract, split between Canadaian integrator CGI and Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic, will cost nearly £9m – more than double the procurement cost of £4.1m for the system at the last election in 2016. During a July hearing about the 2020 elections at the London Assembly Oversight Committee, members heard that Smartmatic, which builds and sells electronic voting tech, had worked on the Scottish elections. However, the London Assembly has since confirmed to The Register that Smartmatic was not involved. The company was also recently blamed for a number of technical glitches in the Philippine elections. The London Assembly was told costs had increased because the new vote-counting system offered better functionality than the previous procurement.

Full Article: Subcontractor's track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral • The Register.

United Kingdom: Former Cambridge Analytica director, Brittany Kaiser, dumps more evidence of Brexit’s democratic trainwreck | Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

A UK parliamentary committee has published new evidence fleshing out how membership data was passed from UKIP, a pro-Brexit political party, to Leave.EU, a Brexit supporting campaign active in the 2016 EU referendum — via the disgraced and now defunct data company, Cambridge Analytica. In evidence sessions last year, during the DCMS committee’s enquiry into online disinformation, it was told by both the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, and the main financial backer of the Leave.EU campaign, the businessman Arron Banks, that Cambridge Analytica did no work for the Leave.EU campaign. Documents published today by the committee clearly contradict that narrative — revealing internal correspondence about the use of a UKIP dataset to create voter profiles to carry out “national microtargeting” for Leave.EU. They also show CA staff raising concerns about the legality of the plan to model UKIP data to enable Leave.EU to identify and target receptive voters with pro-Brexit messaging. The UK’s 2016 in-out EU referendum saw the voting public narrowing voting to leave — by 52:48.

Full Article: Former Cambridge Analytica director, Brittany Kaiser, dumps more evidence of Brexit’s democratic trainwreck | TechCrunch.

United Kingdom: Cost of vote counting in London elections set to double | Jessie Mathewson/East London and West Essex Guardian

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has used e-counting since its first election in 2000. But critics have branded the new contract for the London Assembly and mayoral elections “the biggest waste of money at City Hall since the Garden Bridge”. GLA officials say the new contract will ensure better cyber-security and allow more testing ahead of the count, after a technical glitch delayed results in 2016. Speaking at a meeting of the GLA Oversight committee last week, Greater London’s deputy returning officer Alex Conway said the new contract was within budget. He said: “The money is sort of not the point – the point is to run a successful election.” But Pascal Crowe, democracy officer for scrutiny group Open Rights, said the GLA should release details of how it chose the winning bid. He said: “Given that the cost of the contract has more than doubled, taxpayers will want to know that their money is being spent wisely.” “This must be the biggest waste of money at City Hall since the Garden Bridge.”

Full Article: Cost of vote counting in London elections set to double | East London and West Essex Guardian Series.

United Kingdom: E-voting by touch-screen trialled in local elections | BBC

Voters in Gateshead are being invited to vote twice in the local elections – via the traditional ballot box and on a touch-screen computer. Only their ballot paper vote will count, with the e-voting just a trial. E-voting could eventually transform elections, doing away with the need for an election count. Several countries have experimented with such systems but security fears have held deployment back. Anyone wanting to take part has to record their vote via a touch-screen computer at the polling booth by entering a passcode issued to them, selecting a candidate and then receiving a paper receipt. All encrypted votes are published on the election website, where anyone will be able to look at the tally for each candidate. The system will flag up if any e-vote has been illegitimately modified. What made it different from previous systems was that it could be verified “end to end”, said the team at Warwick University who developed it, with funding from the European Research Council and Innovate UK.

Full Article: E-voting by touch-screen trialled in local elections - BBC News.

United Kingdom: Voter ID trials are dangerous. That’s why I’m taking the government to court | Neil Coughlan/The Guardian

On Wednesday, I received a date to attend the high court to fight against the government’s dangerous voter ID plans. This case is particularly significant for everyone who lives in my community because next May, for the first time ever, we will be asked to show identification in order to cast our vote at the local government election. Braintree district council, my local authority in Essex, is one of 10 boroughs across England taking part in the government’s pilot scheme, before it plans to roll out voter ID at the next general election. At first glance, these measures could appear reasonable, fair and innocuous. But on closer inspection, voter ID discriminates against people who are unable to provide identification with the ease that ministers, civil servants and most people take for granted – and naively think we all possess. As the Windrush scandal clearly demonstrated, many British citizens do not have official documentation, in fact, 3.5 million electors (7.5% of the electorate) do not have any photo ID.

Full Article: Voter ID trials are dangerous. That’s why I’m taking the government to court | Neil Coughlan | Opinion | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Sajid Javid dismisses speculation of snap general election in June | The Guardian

Sajid Javid has said “the last thing we want is a general election”, emphasising that the government is still hoping to secure a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the Irish border backstop. The home secretary dismissed newspaper reports that Downing Street strategists were considering holding a snap general election on 6 June, if Theresa May cannot get her Brexit deal through parliament before the 29 March deadline. “The last thing we want is a general election, the people will never forgive us for it,” Javid told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show. “They want politicians to get on with the job. They have been given a very clear mandate, now it’s our job to get on with it.”

Full Article: Sajid Javid dismisses speculation of snap general election in June | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Corbyn calls for snap election to help put an end to austerity | The Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn has called for a snap general election during a meeting of anti-poverty charities in Glasgow. He said people who have experienced “the brunt of nine years of austerity” must be allowed a new vote. The Labour leader met with voluntary organisations and charities working to tackle poverty in south-west Glasgow on Saturday, where he criticised “Tory cuts” while pointing to double-digit yearly increases in food bank use and falling life expectancy in Scotland’s most populated city. “People are suffering under austerity as a direct result of Tory cuts in Westminster passed down by the SNP in Holyrood,” he said. “The people who are bearing the brunt of nine years of austerity cannot wait years for a general election. They need a general election now.”

Full Article: Corbyn calls for snap election to help put an end to austerity | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Labour Party wants a general election — but a second referendum is more likely, lawmaker says | CNBC

As the world awaits U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s next move after her Brexit deal failed to obtain parliamentary approval, some politicians from the country’s biggest opposition party believe a second referendum is now increasingly likely. “The critical issue is now that she’s been defeated in the House of Commons, what does Theresa May do and I think, there’s only one way she can really go now — and that’s towards a referendum to give the people a chance to sort out this crisis,” Andrew Adonis, a Labour member of the upper house who previously served as U.K. transport minister and education minister, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Full Article: Brexit: Labour Party wants general election, but 2nd referendum likely.

United Kingdom: Corbyn to again call for general election to break Brexit deadlock | The Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn is to reiterate his call for the Brexit impasse to be put to the people in a general election, as Labour edged closer to pledging to call a no-confidence vote in Theresa May’s government if her departure plan is voted down in the Commons. At a speech in Wakefield on Thursday, the Labour leader is to argue that if May is unable to get her flagship piece of legislation past MPs next week then her government will have lost all authority, meaning an election is urgently needed. “So I say to Theresa May: if you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide,” he will say, according to extracts from the speech released in advance. “To break the deadlock an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option. It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in parliament and across the country.”

Full Article: Corbyn to again call for general election to break Brexit deadlock | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Government faces legal challenge over voter ID checks at local elections | The Independent

Government plans to introduce voter ID checks are to be challenged in court on the basis they deter people from voting. Neil Coughlan, 64, has launched a legal case – backed by a £10,000 online fundraising campaign – to prevent the scheme being piloted at next year’s local elections. He said he wants “to stand up against a government that is taking our democracy down a very dangerous path.”Mr Coughlan, who does not have any form of photo ID, has received support from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), who claim the government’s plans are “undemocratic” and a waste of taxpayer’s money.

Full Article: Government faces legal challenge over voter ID checks at local elections | The Independent.

United Kingdom: EU court rules against British expats’ challenge over ‘illegal’ Brexit | The Local

A European Court has rejected an appeal by Brits living in Europe, including 97-year-old war veteran Harry Shindler, who claim that the Brexit referendum was invalid because at least a million Britons were deprived of a vote. Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy, and 12 other British expats questioned the legality of the Brexit referendum in 2016 because they and more than a million Britons living in the EU did not get to have their say due to the 15-year rule on voting rights for expats. That controversial rule bars any British citizen from voting in UK elections or referendums if they have been living out of the country for more than 15 years. The UK’s Conservative government has long promised to abolish the 15-year rule but failed to do so. The French lawyers representing the Brits said that due to this fact, the European Union should not have accepted the UK’s intention to withdraw and start negotiations for leaving the bloc.

Full Article: EU court rules against British expats' challenge over 'illegal' Brexit - The Local.

United Kingdom: General Election? The three routes which could lead to a snap vote | London Evening Standard

Britain could be facing another general election as soon as January if Theresa May fails to get her Brexit deal through parliament, a leading academic has said. The prime minister is set to put her Brexit deal in front of the House of Commons within a month if she wins the backing of her Cabinet and after it has been agreed with the other 27 EU member states at an emergency summit in November. If she fails to gain the support of MPs, the government could choose to simply stop negotiations with the EU and opt for “no deal” or try to get the deal passed a second time. If the prime minister completely fails to get parliament’s support, there are three possible routes which could lead to a general election being called, according to Dr Alan Wager from the UK in a Changing EU thinktank.

Full Article: General Election? The three routes which could lead to a snap vote if Theresa May fails to win backing for her Brexit deal and faces vote of no confidence | London Evening Standard.

United Kingdom: The 8 million pound hole in Brexit: smoking gun or damp squib? | Reuters

Britain’s serious crime agency has started an investigation into Brexit backer Arron Banks over the source of 8 million pounds ($10.4 million) in loans to groups including Leave.EU which campaigned to leave the European Union. Banks has said the investigation is part of an attempt to undermine Brexit. He has repeatedly insisted that the money came from him and that no Russian funding was involved. But if criminal offences or foreign funding are proven, that could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the whole Brexit vote. The groups that received the loans ran emotive publicity campaigns to persuade people to vote to leave the EU – and the final result was close. In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed Brexit while 16.1 million, or 48.1 percent, backed staying in the bloc. The focus is 8 million pounds in loans provided to Leave.EU and Better for the Country Limited (BFTC), which Banks controls and which ran Leave.EU’s campaign.

Full Article: The 8 million pound hole in Brexit: smoking gun or damp squib? | Reuters.

United Kingdom: Pencil and paper voting has thwarted Russian meddling – minister | The Guardian

It is “undoubtedly true” that there have been efforts by the Russian state to influence British elections, the culture secretary has told a committee of MPs, but the government has not seen evidence that those attempts have been successful. Speaking to the digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) select committee, Jeremy Wright, the secretary of state at the department, said that the UK was defended against direct electoral interference by the simple fact that the UK uses pencils and paper to vote. “There are two types [of interference] you might attempt: one is with the process of the election itself, in other words, influencing the outcome of the election by means of interfering with voting machines etc, but we can’t do that here, we don’t have voting machines of that kind.

Full Article: Pencil and paper voting has thwarted Russian meddling – minister | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Opposition leader will back second Brexit vote if party wants it | Reuters

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would back a second Brexit referendum if his Labour Party votes to pursue the move, heaping pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, whose plans for a divorce deal with the EU have hit an impasse. Corbyn, a veteran eurosceptic, has resisted growing demands to back a new “People’s Vote” on the decision to quit the European Union, keen to keep those party members on board who voted in favour of Brexit at a 2016 referendum. But the political landscape has changed since May’s plans for Brexit — the biggest shift in British policy for more than four decades — were resoundingly rebuffed by the EU on Thursday, with any outcome of the negotiations more uncertain than ever.

Full Article: UK opposition leader will back second Brexit vote if party wants it | Reuters.

United Kingdom: Thousands call for entire UK to get voting rights in London mayoral elections – claiming decisions in the capital ‘affect the rest of the country’ | London Evening Standard

Thousands of people are calling for the entire UK to get voting rights in London’s mayoral elections. A petition – entitled “Let the UK vote for the next London Mayor. It is our capital after all!” – has been signed by more than 6,500 people. Launched by Lorraine Davis, it claims voters outside the capital should have the right to vote because the Mayor of London’s decisions have a “roll-on effect” on the rest of the UK. She said: “After the disastrous last few years of Sadiq Khan being the mayor of London, let the people of the country elect the next mayor, as it does affect the rest of the country, what does and does not happen in London seems to have a roll-on effect.” However, the petition is guaranteed to be rejected by the government because the mayor is directly accountable to Londoners under local democracy laws.

Full Article: Thousands call for entire UK to get voting rights in London mayoral elections - claiming decisions in the capital 'affect the rest of the country' | London Evening Standard.

United Kingdom: Government rejects online voting for disabled voters amid electoral fraud fears | Sky News

The government has rejected calls to provide online voting access to disabled voters, claiming it increases the risk of electoral fraud. E-voting could make elections more accessible for disabled voters, campaigners have argued, and requests to trial online voting were submitted to a recent government report. “There may be potential benefits for some groups in using e-voting but there are significant concerns about the security of online voting,” said the government in response to those submissions. The “increased risk of electoral fraud” alongside “providing unproven systems to people who are already vulnerable […] would not be helpful,” the government explained. It was argued that online voting would help people with sight loss, where audio support and other forms of assistive technology such as screen-readers are available via their computers.

Full Article: Government rejects online voting for disabled voters amid electoral fraud fears.

United Kingdom: Ministers urged to abandon Voter ID as rollout at general election estimated to cost up to £20m | The Independent

Ministers are facing calls to ditch plans for nationwide voter ID checks as it emerged introducing them at a general election could cost up to £20m – even though there were only 28 cases of polling station impersonations alleged in 2017. The government has been urged to abandon the contentious proposals, with the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) pointing out that at this rate, the cost could equate to £700,000 per fraud allegation. Labour has claimed the moves are in danger of locking people out of the democratic process, and critics fear it could disproportionately affect ethnic minorities and the poorest.

Full Article: Ministers urged to abandon Voter ID as rollout at general election estimated to cost up to £20m | The Independent.

United Kingdom: Voter ID: our first results suggest local election pilot was unnecessary and ineffective | The Conversation

The 2018 local elections in England were surrounded by a fierce debate over a pilot requiring voters to present ID at polling stations. The government had argued that a clampdown on security was needed, because it was concerned about ongoing electoral fraud in polling stations. It’s important to have neutral evidence to judge these claims. We think our findings from the largest ever survey on electoral integrity at UK polling stations can help to achieve this. Following up on a 2015 survey, we conducted a survey of the staff managing polling stations across England, issuing ballot papers and sealing up ballot boxes at the 2018 local elections. We asked if they had suspicions that electoral fraud was taking place and whether party agents were acting within electoral law. We also asked if voters were turned away. The survey was circulated in 42 local authorities that were not piloting voter ID and there were 2,274 responses.

Full Article: Voter ID: our first results suggest local election pilot was unnecessary and ineffective.