UK News Evidence shows electoral fraud not danger to British democracy
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At the launch of the Brexit Party's "contract with the British people", leader Nigel Farage made a serious charge about the integrity of British democracy.
"I'm astonished that nobody seems to want to reform the postal voting system, something that has been totally abused since it was opened up nearly 20 years ago,"told an audience of activists.
"We've seen fraud, intimidation, several court cases, people going to prison and yet it seems to suit the two parties to keep the postal voting system as it is."
Plans for 16-year-olds in Wales to get the vote to take huge step forward
Prisoners serving four years or less are also set to get the voteAfter months of discussions and debate, the Welsh Government will put forward a piece of legislation for teens to be allowed to vote in council elections. The next council election is due in 2022. The Welsh Government, run by Labour, is also expected to include an amendment as the Bill makes it way through the Senedd for prisoners serving four years or less to be able to vote in the same elections.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Farage also called abuse of the ability to request a postal vote on demand "a major scandal". Is he correct?
Police data on the allegations of electoral fraud every year since 2010 were collected and analysed by the Electoral Commission in 2017.
They showed that even though tens of millions of people vote, the number of allegations is generally in the low hundreds.
The number of actual convictions is even lower.
Take the last general election in 2017, when police forces recorded 336 cases of alleged electoral fraud.
Only eight people were cautioned, and there was just one conviction - for someone voting as another person at a polling station
That means there were no convictions for postal voting, the issue that Nigel Farage is most concerned about.
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Since 1998, Electoral Commission records show there have been only nine convictions for postal vote fraud, a rate of less than one every two years.
Indeed, in 2017, there were only 22 allegations of postal fraud, despite the fact that 8.4 million votes were cast this way, with none ended in convictions.
Of course, it's possible cases just aren't being reported.
The Electoral Commission admitted that police data "may not be a complete record of all activity which could involve electoral fraud offences".
Observers have warned that postal voting fraud may be a risk, given the relative openness of the UK system.
The most recent government review into electoral security found that postal voting was "considered by some to be the UK's main electoral vulnerability and to provide the 'best' opportunity for electoral fraud."
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'I was hung (handcuffed and shackled) on a steep X-Cross doing a spread-eagled pose for hours after hours'Simon Cheng, who went missing in August after going on a business trip to the mainland city of Shenzhen, claims he was sleep deprived, shackled and beaten by Chinese officials to force information about activists leading pro-democracy protests.
There have also been sporadic high-profile cases.
In 2005, six Labour councillors were found guilty of electoral fraud during council elections in two Birmingham wards.
In 2015, Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman was removed from office after he was found guilty of electoral fraud by an electoral court.
Yet on many occasions when allegations surface - like in June's Peterborough by-election, when Cambridgeshire officers investigated five allegations of electoral fraud - the police find no evidence worth pursuing.
The best available evidence shows that electoral fraud is not a danger to British democracy.
For this reason, the government review on election security concluded that abolishing postal voting on demand, as Mr Farage has proposed, "would be a disproportionate step", saying that "strengthening the system is what is required".
Campaign Check scrutinises election claims made by political parties, examining if they are true or false, and the context. Sky News is working with Full Fact - the leading independent fact-checking charity.
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Activists handed a petition to a British Consulate official before leaving. Beijing denies torturing Mr Cheng and says he was held for soliciting prostitution during a business trip to mainland China in August. Mr Cheng says he agreed to confess to avoid harsher charges. He says he was hooded, beaten and chained to a metal frame as Chinese secret police sought information on activists involved in the protests and on Britain’s purported role. © Provided by PA Media Protesters outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong (Vincent Thian/AP) Mr Cheng has left the consulate and is in hiding.
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