Election Law in Total Chaos

  • On 14th September 2018 the High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission 'misinterpreted' the law on referendum expenses in its advice to the Leave campaign. The Commission advised Vote Leave on 20th May 2016 that it need not include money given to other organisations as part of its referendum expenses but changed its mind last November and fined Vote Leave £61,000. Vote Leave former chief executive Matthew Elliott said the High Court ruling has "thrown electoral law for future elections and referendums into total chaos.”
  • The anti-Brexit ‘Good Law Project’ claims this Electoral Commission ‘mismanagement’ of the referendum process tilted it in favour of Brexit. But the Commission tried to evade admitting that it gave such advice to Vote Leave for almost two years. The plain fact is the political establishment has been overwhelmingly in favour of remain and would almost certainly have ignored such Electoral Commission duplicity if the referendum had gone their way.
  • Contortions of a similar ilk can be seen in the recent Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearings regarding the Leave campaign’s use of social media. The wholly remain committee and its chair Damian Collins MP inferred Brexit may have been invalidated because the Leave campaign might have breached Data Protection rights. But if account is taken of Data Protection policy in regard to postal ballots a very different picture of remain priorities begins to emerge.
  • Despite objections by the Association of Election Administrators and the Information Commissioner both the Government and the Electoral Commission denied voters the right to opt out of having information about whether they vote and whether they vote at a polling station or by post being sold to political parties. Denial of this right is at odds with the basic principles of Data Protection Law.
  • Adding insult to injury the Cabinet Office has consequently claimed postal ballots cannot be counted separately because this might reveal how individuals vote. But separate counting could put on public view those parties who gain disproportionate advantage from postal votes and thereby both help detect and so deter electoral fraud. By contrast refusal to count postal ballots separately makes election fraud easier to conceal.

October 2018

Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot (CDRSB)
27, Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX