Voter fraud is not the problem

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Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:26 pm

Recently published research (behind paywall) found that voter fraud is not a problem in the UK. The Conversation has a piece by one of the authors of the study that puts the research into historical context. The research shows that voter fraud is just one problem that can affect electoral integrity, and a minor one at that. They list several other problems, all with much higher evidence of having affected people's ability to vote:
  • administrative problems - one polling station had a fire alarm and had to set up a temporary polling station in the back of a car until the all-clear was given
  • Bureaucratic hurdles - queues are more likely in higher density urban areas
  • Accessibility - polling stations being located in buildings without disabled access.
  • Impersonation and fraud - pilot studies looked into the impact of voter ID on levels of fraud
The administrative problems and bureaucratic hurdles are things that can be dealt with through good planning and management, and appeared to be rare. Things like fire alarms can be dealt with using contingency planning before election day rather than forcing polling station workers to come up with solutions on an ad hoc basis.

Accessibility is a big issue as it's hard to know how many people are being prevented from even reaching the polling station. Steps to the building were common, and in some cases people had to walk long distances to get to the polling station.
Access to the buildings was sometimes problematic. One poll worker noted that:
School gates were closed and no one was there to open them so voters, disabled or not, were
having to walk a long distance to get to us. Some even said they were going to turn around
and go home rather than coming in. Some voters could have done this without our knowledge.
The Conversation piece says that Eric Pickles, who wrote a report on voter fraud, claims that some communities are more prone to electoral fraud than others,
Pickles has also concentrated the public’s eye by claiming that electoral fraud is a problem “especially in communities of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background”. The problem has not been tackled, he argued, because of “over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion”.
The study found no basis for this claim. The good news is that the vast majority of polling station workers saw no evidence of any voter intimidation and there is no evidence of differences between ethnicities. The bad news is that where voter intimidation was seen it was often gendered, with men telling women how to vote.

In the matter of votor fraud, the study compared polling stations that were piloting voter ID with those that were not. Impersonation was not a problem in either case.

To directly test Eric Pickles' claim about Pakistani and Bangaladeshi communities, the study looked at voter fraud by ethnicity. They found that,
There is therefore little statistical or qualitative evidence based on these surveys to suggest that problems with fraud is higher in these communities than any others.
The voter ID requirements had some unexpected downsides,
Did the piloting of voter identification have any effect on the running of the poll? There was virtually no difference between the pilot and non-pilot areas in terms of whether electoral fraud was suspected. We might imply from this that the scheme had no effect – but a difference was probably never likely given that suspected fraud was so infrequent in the first place. Interestingly, a higher proportion of respondents in the pilot areas reported encountering electors whose identity they were unsure of. In the pilot areas 7.2% of poll workers encountered electors whose identity they were suspicious about. In the nonpilot areas, the figure was 4.7%. An ANOVA crosstab table Chi-square tests were run to see whether this different was statistically significant. It was significant at the p < .001 level. Voter ID requirements therefore seemed to make poll workers slightly less confident. (emphasis in the original, p14)
As the study is a survey of polling station workers it is unable to quantify the numbers of people who don't make it as far as the station, either due to accessibility issues or due to a lack of suitable ID in those areas that piloted ID requirements. They do point out, however, that
some voters did not vote or present voter ID out of ideological reasons. This presents an important new link between voter identification requirements and turnout which has not been discussed in the literature to date.
Analysis of the pilot study data found that over a third of people who were turned away for not having the correct ID did not return to vote. The Electoral Commission conducted a survey and found that while very few people said that voter ID would impact them due to practical or philosophical concerns,
Most people in the pilot scheme said it made no difference or made them more likely to vote (90%). However, a notable minority said it made them less likely to vote (3%), that they didn’t have ID (1%) or that they didn’t know (6%). Non-voters on 2 May were more likely than voters to say that they would be negatively affected or that they were unsure.(my emphasis)
Voter ID requirements are a like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. There is no evidence of voter fraud at any level. Full Fact says that,
The average number of alleged cases per year between 2010 and 2017 was 22.
The amount of money and bureaucracy being wasted on these trials is a disgrace. Instead we should be focusing attention on ensuring that polling station workers receive proper training and that fully accessible buildings are being chosen as polling stations. Disenfranchisement is more of a threat to our democracy than voter fraud. Indeed,
These pilots were voluntary, with participating councils effectively self-selecting in applying to participate (Cabinet Office 2018a)... Critics of the 2018 pilots noted that most of the participating councils were located in the South of England, traditionally a Conservative-voting region. Indeed, four of the five pilot authorities had Conservative majorities in the 2018 local elections (Dempsey 2018)... The Conservative Party were the largest in all but one of the councils after the 2019 elections, being the majority in three, and the largest party in a no overall control situation in a further six (Uberoi 2019).
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by murmur » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:32 pm

And another good post there, Fishnut!

Thank you.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Martin Y » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:47 pm

I was particularly struck that the number of people who did not return to vote after being turned away for having no ID far outweighed any plausible number of fraudulent votes. I remarked in another place that Boris's recent enthusiasm for voter ID "is electioneering, not a policy aimed at solving a problem. It's a low appeal to voters swayed by the suspicion that unentitled immigrants are stealing our elections."

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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Sciolus » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:50 pm

It's not about fraud, it's about suppressing non-Tory voters, based on the US Republican model.

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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:57 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:50 pm
It's not about fraud, it's about suppressing non-Tory voters, based on the US Republican model.
It does seem that way. The paper highlighted the fact that every council that took part in the pilot studies were conservative-led. And it definitely feels like it's an import from the US, along with the polarisation of politics in general and the desire to privatise the NHS.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by jimbob » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:12 pm

murmur wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:32 pm
And another good post there, Fishnut!

Thank you.
Indeed. Similar to US.

And like the US, those least likely to afford to drive or travel are most likely to be disenfranchised.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by GeenDienst » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:40 am

I seem to remember a bunch of students didn't get to vote Clegg out (or in, I forget) in Sheffield because they all rocked out of the pub at about 1 minute to finishing time. Under such circumstances, someone from the desk with the lists on should be outside saying right, you were here by closing time, you are the last one who gets to vote, and stay open fort hat. This means changing the rules to being there to vote, rather than casting a vote, in time.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:57 am

Polls close at 10pm and pubs close at 11pm so that story seems a bit dubious. However, the paper does discuss disenfranchisement due to late arrival at the polls and points out that,
the law only permits those already in a queue to vote to cast their ballot after the 10pm close of poll.

The authors note that,
The UK made international headlines on the night of the 2010 general election when citizens were locked out of polling stations as they closed at 10pm, and they were inconsistently dealt with by officials. Legal clarity was subsequently provided, but there remains evidence of variation in the quality of delivery (Clark 2015, 2017).
A Guardian article from the time says that,
in the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's constituency of Sheffield Hallam, students tried to prevent ballot boxes being taken to the count after they were turned away.
and mentions that people were having to queue for over an hour at some of the stations in the constituency.

Interestingly, in contradiction to the statement above from the paper, the Guardian quotes the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission who said that,
"The law is very clear. The polling stations have to close at 10pm. If you have a ballot paper in your hand at 10pm, you can complete your ballot. If you don't, you cannot be given one."
Which seems to be disputed by the Polling Station Handbook which states that,
Polling must close at 10pm, but any eligible electors who at 10pm are in their polling station, or in a queue outside their polling station for the purposes of voting (whether that queue is inside or continues on outside the polling station) must be allowed to vote.If a person is in the polling station or in a queue outside the polling station by 10pm for the purposes of returning a postal vote, they may do so after 10pm.
I don't know if the law was changed or clarified following the events of 2010 or if the Chair was incorrect in her statement but it is clear that if you are queuing for the intention of voting when the polls close you are entitled to cast your vote.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Chris Preston » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:00 am

Best strategy is to have compulsory voting. Solves all these problems.

We also have early voting as well. At the last federal election almost 30% of voters voted early. The current Government wants to change that, but will get a lot of pushback from electors if they do.

Oh yes. Demanding multiple forms of voter ID is a way that conservative governments ensure poorer people are disenfranchised.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:09 am

I'm not sure I agree that compulsory voting solves any of the problems discussed in the article, which are predominantly solved by good organisation and administration. Until we ensure that polling stations are accessible and can handle high voter turnout without leaving people waiting for significant lengths of time to vote, compulsory voting will only exacerbate these problems. I agree that compulsory voting is a good idea but is a separate issue to the ones being discussed in the article.

Early voting and postal votes can help relieve the pressure on polling stations but if early voting requires access to a polling station for several days before the election then that raises a huge number of other logistical issues as few buildings will be available for that use without impacting on other users of the building.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Martin_B » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:11 am

I think the better idea of Australian voting is not necessarily the compulsory voting (which I like) but that elections are held on a Saturday.

Elections on a Thursday (as in the UK) mean that for much of the day people who work can't vote, so either have to vote very early or late (depending on when your shift/work-day starts and finishes). An election on a Saturday means that many people aren't shackled by having to vote early/late, and those that are can vote early (a limited number of voting stations open ~2 weeks prior to the election day).

Therefore, while Australian voting stations do have 'peak' voting times, they're nothing like as bad as the UK peak voting times.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by jimbob » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:25 am

GeenDienst wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:40 am
I seem to remember a bunch of students didn't get to vote Clegg out (or in, I forget) in Sheffield because they all rocked out of the pub at about 1 minute to finishing time. Under such circumstances, someone from the desk with the lists on should be outside saying right, you were here by closing time, you are the last one who gets to vote, and stay open fort hat. This means changing the rules to being there to vote, rather than casting a vote, in time.
That is the case.

If you are in a queue to vote by 10pm you may vote.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by basementer » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:43 am

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:09 am
I'm not sure I agree that compulsory voting solves any of the problems discussed in the article, which are predominantly solved by good organisation and administration. Until we ensure that polling stations are accessible and can handle high voter turnout without leaving people waiting for significant lengths of time to vote, compulsory voting will only exacerbate these problems. I agree that compulsory voting is a good idea but is a separate issue to the ones being discussed in the article.

Early voting and postal votes can help relieve the pressure on polling stations but if early voting requires access to a polling station for several days before the election then that raises a huge number of other logistical issues as few buildings will be available for that use without impacting on other users of the building.
In the last local election here, early votes could be cast at the local library. Useful side effect: people are reminded that there is a public library in easy walking distance.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:07 am

Where do I get my fort hat?
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Chris Preston » Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:29 am

Fishnut wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:09 am
I'm not sure I agree that compulsory voting solves any of the problems discussed in the article, which are predominantly solved by good organisation and administration.
It would, indirectly. If the expectation is that the whole of the registered voter population is going to vote, then arrangements are made to accommodate that. If the expectation is that only 50% of the voter population will be voting, arrangements are made to accommodate 50% and voters missing out due to poor voting arrangements becomes a low priority.

Edit. I should also add that in situations where voting is voluntary, it encourages policies that make it harder for people who to vote to be implemented, particularly if you can disenfranchise those unlikely to vote for you. It also encourages apathy about increasing voter turn out.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:21 am

jimbob wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:25 am
GeenDienst wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:40 am
I seem to remember a bunch of students didn't get to vote Clegg out (or in, I forget) in Sheffield because they all rocked out of the pub at about 1 minute to finishing time. Under such circumstances, someone from the desk with the lists on should be outside saying right, you were here by closing time, you are the last one who gets to vote, and stay open fort hat. This means changing the rules to being there to vote, rather than casting a vote, in time.
That is the case.

If you are in a queue to vote by 10pm you may vote.
That's not quite the case. As I said above at the time it was reported that you had to have the ballot in hand at 10pm in order to be able to vote. The rules are now that you can vote if you are queuing but I'm not sure if they were clarified/amended after the 2010 election or if they hadn't been implemented properly in some constituencies.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:21 am

Chris Preston wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:29 am
Fishnut wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:09 am
I'm not sure I agree that compulsory voting solves any of the problems discussed in the article, which are predominantly solved by good organisation and administration.
It would, indirectly. If the expectation is that the whole of the registered voter population is going to vote, then arrangements are made to accommodate that. If the expectation is that only 50% of the voter population will be voting, arrangements are made to accommodate 50% and voters missing out due to poor voting arrangements becomes a low priority.

Edit. I should also add that in situations where voting is voluntary, it encourages policies that make it harder for people who to vote to be implemented, particularly if you can disenfranchise those unlikely to vote for you. It also encourages apathy about increasing voter turn out.
That's a fair point.

ETA,
basementer wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:43 am
In the last local election here, early votes could be cast at the local library. Useful side effect: people are reminded that there is a public library in easy walking distance.
That's a really good idea!
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by GeenDienst » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:11 am

If I were forced to vote, I would expect that spoiled ballots were recognised as votes for "none of the above", or a box for same was included, so that a majority for that renders the ballot void.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by dyqik » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:13 am

GeenDienst wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:11 am
If I were forced to vote, I would expect that spoiled ballots were recognised as votes for "none of the above", or a box for same was included, so that a majority for that renders the ballot void.
Or a win for that very active student politician, RON.

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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by GeenDienst » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:32 am

dyqik wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:13 am
GeenDienst wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:11 am
If I were forced to vote, I would expect that spoiled ballots were recognised as votes for "none of the above", or a box for same was included, so that a majority for that renders the ballot void.
Or a win for that very active student politician, RON.
Well, we're a assured a spunking cock for PM...
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by P.J. Denyer » Thu Dec 12, 2019 4:17 pm

Martin_B wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:11 am
I think the better idea of Australian voting is not necessarily the compulsory voting (which I like) but that elections are held on a Saturday.

Elections on a Thursday (as in the UK) mean that for much of the day people who work can't vote, so either have to vote very early or late (depending on when your shift/work-day starts and finishes). An election on a Saturday means that many people aren't shackled by having to vote early/late, and those that are can vote early (a limited number of voting stations open ~2 weeks prior to the election day).

Therefore, while Australian voting stations do have 'peak' voting times, they're nothing like as bad as the UK peak voting times.
Well not everyone has a problem, if you can tell your PA you'll be in when you've voted, or that you've decided to work from home today then you're fine. If you need to clock in by a certain time.. Yeah not so much.

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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Fishnut » Wed May 26, 2021 9:40 am

The petition to get the government to scrap the Voter ID requirements got a response. Unsurprisingly the response was "no". It's almost impressive how firm they are, given how waffly they are most of the time in these responses. They say that "98% of voters already own a photographic document that is on the list of acceptable types of identification under this policy" and link to this briefing paper as evidence. I've not read through it yet but wanted to make a note of it so I remember to return to it and to give others a chance to take a look.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by discovolante » Wed May 26, 2021 9:52 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed May 26, 2021 9:40 am
The petition to get the government to scrap the Voter ID requirements got a response. Unsurprisingly the response was "no". It's almost impressive how firm they are, given how waffly they are most of the time in these responses. They say that "98% of voters already own a photographic document that is on the list of acceptable types of identification under this policy" and link to this briefing paper as evidence. I've not read through it yet but wanted to make a note of it so I remember to return to it and to give others a chance to take a look.
So they mean 98% of people already on the electoral roll? Rather than 98% of people who are eligible to vote including those who aren't on the roll? If that's what they mean then it shows how much they care about enfranchisement.
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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by Woodchopper » Wed May 26, 2021 10:11 am

discovolante wrote:
Wed May 26, 2021 9:52 am
Fishnut wrote:
Wed May 26, 2021 9:40 am
The petition to get the government to scrap the Voter ID requirements got a response. Unsurprisingly the response was "no". It's almost impressive how firm they are, given how waffly they are most of the time in these responses. They say that "98% of voters already own a photographic document that is on the list of acceptable types of identification under this policy" and link to this briefing paper as evidence. I've not read through it yet but wanted to make a note of it so I remember to return to it and to give others a chance to take a look.
So they mean 98% of people already on the electoral roll? Rather than 98% of people who are eligible to vote including those who aren't on the roll? If that's what they mean then it shows how much they care about enfranchisement.
The number is from here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... at-britain

Its of all eligible voters, but:
Ninety-eight per cent held some form of photo ID (including ID that had expired or where the photo was no longer recognisable (Figure 2.1). Slightly fewer (96%) held a form of photo ID with a photo that respondents thought was recognisable (including ID that had expired), while nine in ten (91%) held a form of photo IDthat was both in-date and recognisable.

[...]

a substantial proportion (42%) of respondents with no photo ID said that they were unlikely or very unlikely to apply. This would suggest that close to half of those withoutphoto ID would not seek to apply for the Voter Card, and therefore be at risk of ending upwithout photo ID.

[...]

For the majority of respondents (89%), the requirement to present photo ID would make no difference to their likelihood to vote. This was more likely among those who had voted before (89%) than those who either had not voted beforeor did not know if they had voted before(85%).

Five per cent of respondents said the policy would make them less likely to vote, and the same proportion said it would make them more likely to vote. While equal proportions of those who had and had not voted before believed the policy would make them less likely to vote (5% each), a greater proportion of those who had not voted before said the policy would make them more likely to vote (8%, compared with 5% of those who had voted previously).

More than a quarter (27%) of those withno photo ID, and just under a fifth (19%) of those with only unrecognisable photo ID said that they would be less likely to vote if they needed to present photo ID, compared with four per cent of those holding recognisable photo ID.

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Re: Voter fraud is not the problem

Post by bmforre » Wed May 26, 2021 11:05 am

Fishnut wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 9:21 am
basementer wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:43 am
In the last local election here, early votes could be cast at the local library. Useful side effect: people are reminded that there is a public library in easy walking distance.
That's a really good idea!
This has been the practice in Trondheim for a good many elections.

The downtown library also offers a workshop with equipment for a variety of practical tasks. There are 3D printers, you only need to pay for supplies used and free software is available. I haven't tried this yet but am tempted.

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