The Pickles report entitled Securing the Vote has very little to do with electoral fraud, and everything to do with vote suppression – the disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor. It also has hidden within it another insidious motive – local ‘voluntary’ registers of resident foreign nationals. The report was sneaked out right in the middle of the Xmas holidays, when parliament is not in session, obviously as the government hoped it might not get the scrutiny it warrants. The report is quite short and is based on Pickles’ involvement in the Tower Hamlets case, after the mayor was accused of electoral fraud (though no evidence of criminality was found). There are measures in the report that are based specifically on the allegations from that case; for example, electors being influenced to vote a certain way by religious leaders, something that the report recommends there should be legislation to stop (but how that would apply to bishops equally as it would to imams or other community leaders isn’t discussed).
It talks about ‘certain communities’ being possibly more prone to fraud, especially when it comes to proxy and postal voting, and it briefly says how these can be tightened up but without much in the way of concrete proposals for legislation. Perhaps we should consider at this point that the Conservative Party gets a lot of votes from the elderly who use these methods – and in the last election, 17% of the votes were cast this way (and only 0.33% were rejected).
What the report does talk about however is voter ID. It suggests a number of sponsored trials requiring different kinds of ID to see which is the most effective and also to look into the effects on turnout, etc. But there really is no need for any such trial. There have been a number of studies done in the US that demonstrate how voter ID suppresses the vote of minorities and the poor – not just because they are more unlikely to have or be able to afford the kind of ID required, they are also less likely to know what is required until it is too late to acquire it.