Will defiance of the Electoral Commission get through the House of Lords?
The main story in the Times this morning says that the Government “defied its own independent advisers yesterday by declaring that all-postal ballots could go ahead despite fears of widespread fraud and intimidation.”
The Electoral Commission had recommended that all-postal ballots be abandoned after it had studied the experiment on June 10 when such ballots took place over large parts on England for the local and Euro election.
In the story it is suggested that all-postal voting could begin in next May’s local elections – May 5th 2005 – the day that is being widely touted for the next General Election. Although a spokesman indicated that the General Election would be taking place on a “conventional basis” it is hard to see how dual systems of voting could operate if local elections on the same day were held in this way.
Having an all-postal General Election would bias the campaign to the Government which, of course, fixes the date.
Given that in June a large proportion of those voting in this way did so at least a week in advance this effectively truncates the campaign and would hinder all opposition parties.
In an analysis we did after the June 10 Euro elections we concluded that the system gave Labour a 5% boost.
The move to have postal voting on June 10 was strongly resisted in the House of Lords and we would expect this to happen again. What would happen, for instance, if the postal workers went on strike and post boxes were sealed (see picture above)? So many issues were raised in June that you can see the Government being open to the charge that “it is trying to fix things in its favour”.
The betting dimension – if this happens Labour become an even bigger certainty.