PowerPoint Presentation - British Politics Group

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					                The Birmingham Case
   Results of the elections in Aston and Bordesley Green wards were
        both challenged through electoral petitions.
   These petitions were heard simultaneously in February/March
        2005 by Judge Richard Mawrey, who ‘voided’ (overturned)
        both results.
   In his judgement, at least 3,500 postal ballots submitted in the two
         wards were fraudulent.
   Among the many ‘irregularities’, a large number of Aston ballot
       papers were found to have been taken to a warehouse, where
       they were completed by Labour Party representatives.
   All 6 ‘winning’ candidates were found to have engaged in corrupt
          and illegal practices, as defined in the Representation of the
          People Act 1983 – though one of the Aston candidates was
          subsequently cleared by the Court of Appeal in May 2005.
         The Birmingham Election Court –
    Judge Richard Mawrey’s definitive judgement
                     (Monday 4th April, 2005)

“In the course of preparing my judgement, my attention was drawn to
an official Government statement about postal voting:
     ‘There are no proposals to change the rules governing
      electoral procedures for the next election, including those for
      postal voting. The systems already in place to deal with the
      allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working.’

Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried, and listened to
 evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic,
 would find this statement surprising. To assert that ‘The systems
 already in place … are clearly working’ indicates a state not merely of
 complacency but of denial.
The systems to deal with fraud are not working well. They are not
 working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal
 realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud
 will continue unabated.”
          Prisoners' voting rights - UK
   Prisoners serving a custodial sentence may not vote at any
         parliamentary or local election (Rep'n of the People Act,1983).
   View of successive Governments – prisoners convicted of a crime
        serious enough to warrant imprisonment lose the moral
        authority to vote. UK is now only Western European country to
        impose a blanket ban.
   2004/05 – European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban
        breached Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights,
        the right to free and fair elections.
   2005-10 – Government considered and consulted: e.g. on which
        categories of prisoners to exempt from ban.
   Dec. 2009 – Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers urged
        Government to 'rapidly adopt' measures enabling prisoners to
        vote in the forthcoming General Election.
   June 2010 – Committee of Ministers expresses 'profound regret'
        that the ban was not lifted in time for the General Election.
Some of the monitors’ concerns – the US

 DC residents (and those in US territories) not
    entitled to full representation in Congress.
 Restrictions on voting rights of felons and ex-felons
    disproportionate and widely varying; 5.3 million
    US citizens effectively disenfranchised.
 HAVA (Help America Vote Act, 2002) was bi-partisan
    compromise to rectify problems identified during
    2000 elections; would benefit now from more
    clarity and detail.
Washington DC's disenfranchised voters
DC is a federal district, not a state.
Residents have no voting
  representation in Congress – just a
  non-voting delegate in the H/Reps.
DC House Voting Rights Act 2009
  would make DC a 2-member
  congressional district for purposes of
  representation; but held up by
  dispute over constitutionality, and
  'wrecking' amendment to remove
  DC's authorities to impose gun
            Voter identification - US
   2002 - Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required states to have
       state-wide voter registration database, that can be matched
       with other state and federal records – but no definition of
       'match', and no requirement to match across states.

   Voter ID required for first-time voters who registered by post
       and provided no ID with registration.

   Other ID requirements vary from state to state:
       8 states require photo ID; 18 require some form of ID.

   2010 – Supreme Court rules that a state legislature may
       require voters to identify themselves using a photo ID.
       Opposed by Democrats, ACLU and civil rights groups as
       unconstitutional – discriminating against the elderly, poor,
       and minorities.
Turnout – 90% or 64%?

            population   Black 18-24

              (71%)        70        59

            who voted      93        83

              voted        65        49
                         Highest + 12%
                         recorded since '96
How Americans cast their votes, 2008


                   Provisional ballots
2000 - Florida (S o S Katherine Harris) paid
  private company to 'purge' state's voter file,
  resulting in removal of 82,000 voters, mostly
  African-American, mostly entitled to vote.
2002 – HAVA empowers Secretaries of State to
  remove 'fraudulent and suspicious' voters
  from voter lists, but ensures everyone who
  may be entitled to vote receives a ballot
  paper .... but not that it is counted.
2004/08 – Most states (without Election Day
  registration) issued Provisional Ballots to
  voters whose eligibility was in doubt. They
  were counted only if eligibility was verified.
2008 – over 2 million Provisional Ballots
  submitted; 70% counted (1.2% of total vote),
  600,000 rejected.
US is unique among
   democratic countries
   both in its incarceration
   rate (1 in 100 persons;
   Canada 1 in 1,000;
   E & W 1 in 635), and in
   restricting voting rights
   of unincarcerated
   ex- felons.
5 million were
   disenfranchised in 2008,
   incl. 4 mill. in the 35
   states still restricting
   voting rights of those on
   probation, parole, and/or
   who had completed their
                 Sources of quotes
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2008), The State
  of Democracy in Europe

OSCE/ODIHR (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
  Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights)
  (2005), Final Report on the UK General Election on 5 May 2005

OSCE/ODIHR (2009) Limited Election Observation Mission Final
  Report on the US General Elections, 4 November 2008

OSCE/ODIHR (2010) Election Assessment Mission Report on the
  UK General Election on 6 May 2010

Royal Commonwealth Society (2010) Final Report of the
  Commonwealth Observer Team to the 2010 UK General

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