Psssttt! Wanna Buy A Vote?

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The democratic process is precious. People have struggled, fought, indeed even died, in order that we may all be free to cast our votes for those who represent our interests in the Mother of Parliaments. Every five years or so (depending on the whim of the incumbent Prime Minister) the populace are allowed to make a mark on a piece of paper against the name of the person whom they think will do best for them.


This kind of voting is simple to operate, easy to understand, difficult to subvert and provides wonderful television on election night as the counts come in. The basic tenet of "one person, one vote" forms a very important part of our society. The vote is the prime symbol of our control over those who regulate our lives.

And I've just been given two more. Unasked, for free.


If you've been paying attention over the past few months you will know that I currently work in Yorkshire. Because of the length of time I will be here, I have rented a small house for the duration. The picture above shows a letter that dropped through my letterbox last week. If you click on the picture you will see that it's from the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, requesting updated information for the local register of electors.

What you cannot see, because I have erased them, are the names of the two previous occupants of the house I now live in during the week. If I were of nefarious intent, all I would need to do to be in receipt of two free votes would be to confirm the details on the form. Doing it online would mean that I could even escape having to sign my name. To make the subterfuge completely untraceable would only require a quick visit to an internet cafe.

In due course two polling cards would plop on to the door mat, in the names of Mr and Mrs XXXXX. I could easily use one, a female accomplice the other. ID is not required to cast a vote, just the polling card, and in fact just the declaration in person that you are the person named on the register is enough.

If I were to be really ambitious it looks as though I could register up to 9 electors, all of them fictitious. If I were really lazy/devious I could apply for postal votes for us all, although may involve a dangerous contact with the council.

So, there you are: two or more votes in local, UK parliamentary and EU elections, unasked for and offered freely, with no verification. This is not the only rented house in the area, so goodness only knows how many of these letters have fallen into the wrong hands. Surely enough to sway some marginal seats in any organised campaign. I have always been proud of the fact that our democracy was run on fairly relaxed lines, but I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps some form of identity checking may be in order to obviate the ancient Irish habit of personation - "Vote early, vote often".

For the record, the fact that this address houses no qualified voter has now been registered. Although, having read the back of the form, I think I may indeed be entitled as a resident to vote in this area, as well back in the People's Republic.

I've decided not to be greedy.

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