Instrumental in Tory rigging of UK elections?
Idox Elections is part of the Idox Group which, since 2012, has provided a range of electoral services on behalf of UK central and local government, focused upon Electoral Registration and its Postal Vote Management System (PVMS).
Cameron touts for postal votes
In February 2014, the then Prime Minister David Cameron wrote from Conservative Campaign Headquarters to each voter on the UK electoral register soliciting them to apply for a postal vote, and return their signed applications "Freepost" to: The Conservative Party, 1-7 Langleys Road, Birmingham, B29 6HR.
This is the text of the PM's letter:
- Dear Voter,
- Apply for a postal vote today and help us secure an EU Referendum
- This year's European Parliamentary election is the most important in a generation.
- For the first time since the Eurozone crisis, you get to have your say on Britain's relationship with the EU.
- That's why I am asking you to consider applying to vote by post - so you have the peace of mind that you'll still have your say even if you are away, ill or busy on election day.
- And if you prefer to vote in person, you can still take your postal vote to your local polling station and place it in the ballot box. Signing up for a postal vote puts you in control and ensures your voice will be heard whatever happens.
- Europe needs to change
- Since becoming Prime Minister I've already taken tough action to stand up for Britain in Europe by:
- Cutting the EU budget to protect British taxpayers;
- Vetoing a new EU treaty that would have given more powers to Brussels; and,
- Refusing to spend British taxes on bailing out the euro.
- My position on Europe is this:
- 1. The EU needs fundamental change so it works for Britain.
- 2. I will do my best to negotiate a better deal for the British taxpayer and our country.
- 3. When those negotiations are complete, the British people will have their say in an in-out referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU under the new negotiated agreement. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats oppose this plan and want to deny you a say, while UKIP simply can't deliver.
- If I am Prime Minister after the next general election, there will be an in-out referendum by the end of 2017. This is my personal pledge to you.
- Only the Conservatives can deliver real change in Europe - and the European election this year is a hugely important step to securing it.
- How to help us secure that referendum
- This election is a chance to send a message to Brussels that the EU must work for Britain if we are to remain a member.
- So apply for a postal vote today and help us secure an in-out referendum by voting Conservative in this year's crucial European election.
- Yours sincerely,
- David Cameron
- Prime Minister
- (Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party both of 4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9HQ - www.conservatives.com)
Tories came third
David Cameron's efforts with postal voters appear not to have significantly influenced the result of the May 2014 European Parliamentary elections, since the UK Independence Party topped the poll with 26.6% of the national vote and won 24 seats overall. Labour came second with 24.4% of the vote and 20 seats, ahead of the Tories with 23.1% and 19 seats.
Stolen ballot papers
In April 2015 a van, containing more than 200,000 ballot papers that were being taken to two constituencies - Hastings and Rye and Eastbourne - ahead of voting in the General Election on 7 May 2015, was stolen. In March 2017, a commentator remarked:
- "You’d think that when the Police in 2017 are investigating the Tory Party in more than 2 dozen constituencies concerning 2015 election irregularities, that a van with 200,000 ballot papers on board, destined for East Sussex being stolen from a street in East London in the same year 2015, might be seen as being a little suspicious?
- "It seems a wee bit strange that there’s nothing in the press or on the net as to the outcome of the investigation into 'a white Mercedes Benz Sprinter registration KN64 UPD with 200,000 Ballot Papers having been stolen in 2015 ever being recovered.' Unless of course someone knows different!"
In March 2017 concerns were raised by a firm of electoral analysts about the apparent unlawfulness of the conduct of the 2017 Copeland by-election last week – and subsequently, video footage in which a BBC reporter talked about the ‘unusual’ handling of the trays used for ballot papers and separate footage in which BBC Question Time host David Dimbleby announced that Labour had held Copeland then quickly retracted it.
The figure of 9,000 is broadly in line with that reported for the 2015 by-election, in spite of what is later confirmed as the lower turnout in 2017. As the BBC’s Tom Bateman observed around 3am, the voting trays were still empty. An eyewitness at the scene reports that reports were circulating that Labour were ahead – until ‘boxes of postal votes arrived‘ at 1am. Sky’s Boadle knew at least roughly how many postal votes had been cast before midnight and pictures were taken earlier in the evening of paper bags of postal votes waiting to be counted, as this photograph from a Daily Express page covering the by-election showed:
So why were boxes of postal votes arriving at 1am – long after Dimbleby and others were reporting a Labour hold? These late-arriving votes are extremely unlikely to be postal votes handed in at polling stations on the day – in the 2015 General Election, the total number of postal votes handed in was just 157 – such votes are counted and recorded separately, so the exact figure is known for 2015.
But, significantly, not yet for 2017. The number of postal votes – indicated approximately by Sky’s Tom Boadle above – was about the same as the number returned in the 2015 General Election, which had a significantly higher turnout (2015 63.8% v 51.4% 2017). Even though postal vote ‘turnout’ might hold up better at a by-election than in-person votes, in the context of the ‘unusual’ behaviour commented on by Bateman, it’s a cause for concern that merits investigation.
Links to Lilley
The SKWAWKBOX has been advised that IDOX, an electoral services company of which senior Tory MP Peter Lilley is a director, ran the election on behalf of the local authority. The SKWAWKBOX contacted IDOX today, but a spokeswoman advised she was not permitted to confirm and only the local authority could do so.
So, we now have a situation in which:
- BBC and other announcers said Labour had held Copeland; others report it as ‘too close to call’.
- the BBC reporter on the scene commented on the ‘unusual’ emptiness of the ballot trays and absence from view of the cast, counted ballots.
- a figure of 9,000 was given for the total number of postal votes before midnight on election day.
- postal votes were photographed in bags already at the venue waiting to be counted.
- over an hour later, at 1am, large quantites of supposed postal votes in boxes turn up at the venue to be counted.
- just after 3am on the 24th, Tory candidate Trudy Harrison is announced the winner of the Copeland by-election by just a whisker below 7 full percentage points, or 2,147 votes out of just over 31,000, which is not really ‘too close to call’, let alone a ‘Labour hold’.
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