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Students could have voted twice in the general election



The Electoral Commission has warned of a troubling rise in alleged voter fraud amid suggestions that Labour in particular could have been boosted at the general election by students voting for them twice.

Students are legally allowed to register at both their university address and their home address, but must only vote in one location.

However, some have reportedly admitted that they voted twice for Labour in order to boost the party’s chances at the election.

The Electoral Commission has received over 1,000 complaints and letters from 38 MPs alleging that voters cast duplicate ballots. It is working with police to determine how best to investigate the claims.

The current system, which relies largely on paper lists being distributed to polling stations, makes it difficult to prevent people voting twice if they are registered in two places.

The Commission called on ministers to invest in a new IT system that would prevent duplicate voting.

Over 500,000 more people registered to vote in the June 8 poll than in the previous election in 2015, taking the total number of voters on the electoral roll to 46.8 million – the largest ever for a UK election.

More than 2.9 million people applied to register to vote between the announcement of the election on 18 April and the deadline for applications on 22 May, including 612,000 on 22 May itself.

The majority of those applying for a vote – around 70 per cent – were under the age of 34, although many of them were already on the register.

Labour’s Cat Smith, the shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs, said the Government should be wary of making changes that could deter people from voting and should not ban people from registering in two places.

To build a healthy democracy we need active participation of all citizens, which is why the Labour Party delivered a ground-breaking digital campaign which sought to maximise the number of young people to register to vote during the election period, she said.

In contrast, the Conservative party assumed that young people were apathetic to party politics. They made no effort to encourage voter registration, or to put forward policies that would offer real opportunities to young people.

We agree with a number of the key recommendations put forward by the Electoral Commission. Double voting is a serious crime and it is vital that the police have the resources they need to bring about prosecution.

However, we urge caution when looking at measures to tackle this issue a blanket ban on being registered at two addresses would exclude those who for reasons of work or study need to be registered in two places. This cannot be an attempt to make it harder for young people and students to register to vote.


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