United Kingdom

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

United Kingdom: Facebook to be fined £500,000 in Cambridge Analytica data scandal | Politico

It’s more bad news for Facebook. The social networking giant faces a fine of a half a million pounds in Britain for failing to protect people’s online data connected to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to a report published by the country’s privacy watchdog on Wednesday. The financial penalty would represent the first levy worldwide against the tech giant for its role in the alleged abuse. As part of an ongoing investigation into the use of data by political groups, Elizabeth Denham, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner, or ICO, said Facebook broke the country’s data protection rules by making users’ information available to a third-party app linked to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm. Facebook also was not transparent about how people’s digital information would then be used by these companies, particularly in relation to political campaigns.

Full Article: Facebook to be fined £500,000 in Cambridge Analytica data scandal – POLITICO.

United Kingdom: Electoral law has been broken – this is a fight for the soul of our democracy | The Guardian

Seven years ago, during a night of rioting in London, a 23-year-old student popped into his local Lidl and carried out the “opportunistic” theft of a £3.50 case of bottled water. He was sentenced to six months in jail. There was an outcry, but he still went to jail. The law was the law. And justice – though punitive and disproportionate – was served. But that was petty crime. What if the crime is bigger? Much bigger. Too big, possibly, to reckon with. Because last week we discovered other laws may have been broken. Not crimes against a person, or a property, but against our democracy. Crimes that may have been committed by the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum. On Wednesday, Matthew Elliott, the CEO of Vote Leave, the campaign headed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, both now government ministers, took the extraordinary step of leaking the interim report of an Electoral Commission investigation which is still under way. 

Full Article: Electoral law has been broken – this is a fight for the soul of our democracy | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Brexit’s biggest campaign donor ‘investigated by National Crime Agency over links to Russia’ | The Independent

Brexit’s biggest campaign donor is reportedly being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) over alleged links to Russia. The NCA was handed emails belonging to multimillionaire Arron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU campaign, revealing previously undisclosed meetings between the businessman and the Russian ambassador in London, according to The Times. The emails reportedly show Mr Banks was offered three Russian business deals in the buildup to the Brexit vote, including a gold mine in west Africa and a stake in Russia’s state-owned diamond mining organisation Alrosa. The revelations about the extent of Mr Banks’s Russian contacts will trigger further scrutiny as to whether the Russians sought to influence the Brexit vote. 

Full Article: Brexit's biggest campaign donor 'investigated by National Crime Agency over links to Russia' | The Independent.

United Kingdom: Electronic voter registration opens in Northern Ireland | BBC

People in Northern Ireland can now register online to vote. Those not currently on the electoral roll will be able to input their details in a process which takes a few minutes, the chief electoral officer has said. Electronic voter registration was introduced in all other parts of the UK in 2014. Up to now in Northern Ireland, paper forms had to be filled out and returned to a local election office.

Full Article: Electronic voter registration opens in NI - BBC News.

United Kingdom: Online voter registration to be introduced in Northern Ireland | Belfast Telegraph

From the 18th June people in Northern Ireland will be able to register to vote online. The new service is being introduced by the Electoral Office to make the registration process easier for the public. … Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill welcomed the news. “Online registration was introduced in Britain a number of years ago and it is Sinn Féin’s view there was an unjustifiable delay in extending it to the north. I want to commend the efforts of Francie Molloy MP and Colm Gildernew MLA in lobbying to end the delay in rolling out the scheme in the north.”

Full Article: Online voter registration to be introduced in Northern Ireland - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

United Kingdom: US elections are under threat from cyberattacks — and so are yours | Matt Rhoades/Politico.eu

When we talk about the integrity of elections, we tend to think about voter registration, transparency of donations, or the secrecy of our ballots. But on both sides of the Atlantic, the most disturbing new threat is the specter of cyberattacks against our campaign infrastructure. Whether in the wake of the U.K.’s EU referendum in June 2016, the U.S. presidential election that November, or the 2017 British general election, newspapers have been filled with endless speculation about foreign governments attempting to influence the outcome of elections. Unfortunately, much of the debate on the topic has become a partisan political tool used by both sides to make accusations against each other — creating chaos, just as cyberattacks are intended to do. What is deadly serious is the prospect of a malicious actor — who could be a foreign government, domestic extremist group or a single individual — acting to degrade the integrity of elections in the U.K.

Full Article: US elections are under threat from cyberattacks — and so are yours – POLITICO.

United Kingdom: Angus councillor warns voting machines a “disaster waiting to happen” | The Courier

Angus Council’s second youngest elected member has warned Scottish Government proposals to introduce electronic voting machines at future elections are “a disaster waiting to happen”. Councillor Braden Davy, the Conservative member for Forfar and District, dismissed the suggestion of replacing the “tried and trusted” way of voting with an electronic ballot as “costly voting gimmicks” when he addressed members of the local authority’s policy and resource committee in Forfar. Councillors discussed the Scottish Government’s consultation on electoral reform which asked for feedback on plans for voting machines and internet voting alongside other reforms.

Full Article: Angus councillor warns voting machines a "disaster waiting to happen" - The Courier.

United Kingdom: Sturgeon pressed to allow prisoners to vote in Scottish elections | The Guardian

Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to allow all Scottish prison inmates to vote in the country’s elections by a majority of MSPs on Holyrood’s equalities committee. The committee said allowing prisoners to vote went to the heart of questions about a citizen’s responsibilities and the purpose of prison to rehabilitate offenders. Its conclusions, which were resisted by two Conservative MSPs but backed by its Scottish National party, Labour and Liberal Democrat members, will be seen a challenge to the first minister’s emphasis on her party’s progressive ideals.

Full Article: Sturgeon pressed to allow prisoners to vote in Scottish elections | UK news | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Anger and confusion as voters turned away during ID trial | The Guardian

A trial of voter ID has seen people in England turned away from polling booths for the first time for not carrying the necessary documents, with other issues reported including abuse of voting staff and some confusion over what evidence needed to be shown. The local elections saw the scheme tested out in five boroughs in an attempt to crack down on voter impersonation, with the possibility it could be extended nationwide in future elections. The main issues appeared to be in Bromley and Woking where, along with Gosport, people had to show one piece of photo ID or two from a list of other documents. In the other two test areas, Swindon and Watford, only a polling card was required. In Bromley, south-east London, tallies by the opposition Labour group found at least 13 people turned away from just one ward, Crystal Palace. There were also reports of some voters being angry and abusive to polling station workers when asked to show ID.

Full Article: Anger and confusion as voters turned away during ID trial | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Polling station voter ID plans are deeply flawed, say critics | The Guardian

Plans requiring voters to prove their identity before casting their ballot are deeply flawed, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has said. The group said it appeared the plans were a “calculated effort by the government to make voting harder for some citizens”. Pilot schemes will be in place at Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford and Woking councils in the local elections in England on 3 May. The ERS said personification fraud, in which someone votes while pretending to be someone else, is “incredibly rare” and the introduction of mandatory voter ID poses more problems than solutions. The ERS chief executive, Darren Hughes, said: “It’s hard not to see this as a calculated effort by the government to make voting harder for some citizens. “As such it’s vital we think about the risks these changes pose to a free and fair franchise in the UK. We need policy based on hard facts, not rumour and innuendo.

Full Article: Polling station voter ID plans are deeply flawed, say critics | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Tories in new race row over identity checks for elections | The Guardian

Government plans that will force people to prove their identities at polling stations in May’s local elections risk disenfranchising members of ethnic minority communities, according to a leaked letter to ministers from the equality and human rights watchdog. In a move that will fuel controversy over the treatment of migrants in the UK following the Windrush scandal, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Cabinet Office minister David Lidington, raising its serious concern that the checks will deter immigrants and others from participating in the democratic process. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the plan for compulsory checks was more evidence of the kind of “hostile environment” that Theresa May’s government wanted to create for people who had come to settle in Britain. In a speech on Sunday, Corbyn will claim that Theresa May’s determination to cut immigration at all costs was responsible for the Windrush scandal. He will say: “British citizens who came to our country to rebuild it after the war have faced deportation because they couldn’t clear the deliberately unreachable bar set by Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants.”

Full Article: Tories in new race row over identity checks for elections | World news | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Scottish Government Gives Go-Ahead For Internet Voting Pilot | Digit

In response to a letter organised by Webroots Democracy and co-signed by 30 leading academics and charity bosses, Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe Fitzpatrick MSP has reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to the trialling of an electronic voting system. The government outlined its commitment to improving its online services as part of the Digital Strategy for Scotland, this trial is part of that mission statement. … Scottish director of Open Rights GroupMatthew Rice said: “We have got to think what would happen if a foreign actor was interested in the outcome of our elections. It [electronic voting] always introduces security risks. We are saying that it should not be rolled out.” Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo told DIGIT: “We are deeply concerned about the e-voting trials in Scotland. It is vital in a democracy that elections are free and fair. But computerised rather than human ballot counting undermines transparency and risks serious security breaches.”

Full Article: Electronic Voting Scotland: Government Gives Go Ahead for Trials.

United Kingdom: Internet voting systems could replace paper ballots in Scotland | The Scotsman

Just like their Victorian ancestors, they are asked to mark an X on a ballot paper next to their chosen candidate. But all that could be about to change – in Scotland, at least. The Scottish Government’s consultation on electoral reform closed this week and ministers will soon begin scrutinising responses from across the country. It plans to trial “innovative” electronic voting which would mean votes could be cast on electronic machines within traditional polling stations – using systems “similar to ticket machines at railway stations or supermarket automated checkouts”. More boldly, votes could also be cast remotely via home computers or mobile devices.  … But electoral reform is a sensitive subject. Public confidence in the system is vital. Previous efforts to try and streamline the process and increase turnout have not always worked.

Full Article: Electronic voting systems could replace paper ballots in Scotland - The Scotsman.

United Kingdom: A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote | The New Yorker

Christopher Wylie—the twenty-eight-year-old whistle-blower who has detailed how Cambridge Analytica, the controversial political-consulting firm, harvested personal data from as many as fifty million Facebook users—appeared before a committee of British M.P.s on Tuesday. During Wylie’s almost four hours of testimony, he rejected the various dodges, equivocations, and denials that his former employer has made about its use of Facebook data. “It is categorically untrue, categorically untrue, that Cambridge Analytica has never used Facebook data,” Wylie said. “Facebook’s data, and the acquisition using Aleksandr Kogan’s app, was the foundational data of the company. That is how the algorithms were developed. They spent a million dollars, at least, on that acquisition project.”

Full Article: A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote | The New Yorker.

United Kingdom: British election spending laws explained – and why they need updating | The conversation

Back in November 2017, the Electoral Commission reopened investigations into allegations that Vote Leave, the official exit campaign in the 2016 referendum on UK membership of the European Union, had breached spending rules. Into 2018 this was a story that had rather bubbled under the surface. However, a slow drip of revelations regarding the work of Cambridge Analytica, unearthed by The Guardian, The Observer and Channel 4 News have brought the issue to the front and centre. It is worth reminding ourselves how the case got here, and what it means for the electoral integrity of the UK. During referendums in the UK, there are strict spending rules which designate the amount of money official, or “designated”, campaigns are allowed to spend. In 2016, Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe had a limit of £7m.

Full Article: British election spending laws explained – and why they need updating.

United Kingdom: Electronic voting could pose security risk in Scotland | The Ferret

Scottish Government proposals that could see electronic voting introduced may leave Scotland vulnerable to election interference by foreign agents, campaigners have claimed. With a consultation on electoral reform due to close on 29 March, the Scottish Government said it wants to “explore and trial the potential of electronic voting solutions”. This could help increase voter participation, provide “choice and flexibility” over how Scots vote and assist people who “find voting in elections challenging”. The proposals under consideration include electronic voting, as well as introducing technology to allow voting remotely over the internet or from mobile phones. However, critics of the plans have expressed concern and warned that future elections could be targeted by outside parties.

Full Article: Electronic voting could pose security risk in Scotland.

United Kingdom: Voter ID trials ‘risk disenfranchising vulnerable people’ | The Guardian

A group of more than 40 charities, campaign groups and academics have written to the government to warn that plans to trial compulsory voter ID at the local elections in May risk disenfranchising large numbers of vulnerable people. The letter to Chloe Smith, the constitution minister, says the pilot scheme is a disproportionate response to the scale of electoral fraud, noting that in 2016 there were just 44 allegations of voter impersonation, the issue that compulsory ID is intended to combat. It said Electoral Commission figures indicated that 3.5 million people in Britain – 7.5% of the electorate – do not have access to any form of photo ID.

Full Article: Voter ID trials 'risk disenfranchising vulnerable people' | Politics | The Guardian.

United Kingdom: Long-term British expats could soon win right to vote in UK general elections | The Parliament Magazine

Campaigners have welcomed plans to abolish the rule which bans UK voters overseas from voting in British general elections after they have been abroad for period of 15 years or more. They were commenting to news that the overseas electors bill had passed the second reading stage in the UK House of Commons. Speaking on Tuesday, Roger Casale, the founder of citizens’ rights group New Europeans, said, “This is great news.” He told this website, “The goal of abolishing the 15-year rule does at last seem to be in sight. I am happy above all for all Britons abroad who do not want to lose their democratic voice and the right to vote.”

Full Article: Long-term British expats could soon win right to vote in UK general elections.

United Kingdom: Government minister makes statement on expat voting rights push ahead of debate | Euro Weekly

Chloe Smith, Britain’s Constitution minister, has spoken for the government on a bill set to be debated today that would lift current restrictions on expat voting rights if passed. The Overseas Electors Bill will end the 15 year limit on people from Britain who now live abroad casting a ballot in the country’s elections if Parliament approves it. The bill, tabled by Conservative MP Glyn Davies, will go up for debate in the House of Commons today.

Full Article: British government minister makes statement on expat voting rights push ahead of debate.

United Kingdom: Voting age could be cut to 16 before next general election, says senior Tory | Evening Standard

A historic lowering of the voting age from 18 to 16 could be enacted before the next general election, a senior Conservative predicted today. Sir Peter Bottomley said there was “growing” support among Tory MPs for the reform, which is currently opposed by Theresa May’s Government. “It’s a question of when rather than whether it is going to happen,” the former minister told the Standard. Asked if there was enough backing for it to be made law in the current Parliament, the veteran MP said: “I think it would probably carry. Labour would vote in favour of it, so would every minority party and a growing number of Conservatives support it.”

Full Article: Voting age could be cut to 16 before next general election, says senior Tory | London Evening Standard.