Electoral Commission focuses on women in ethnic communities with local election anti-fraud comms drive

The Electoral Commission has kicked off a publicity drive ahead of May's local elections using social media, video and local comms to drive awareness of electoral fraud.

Electoral Commission: Campaign material translated into different languages
Electoral Commission: Campaign material translated into different languages

The independent governmental body has teamed up with charity Crimestoppers and the Cabinet Office to create 'Your vote is yours alone' and encourage people to spurn attempts at intimidation and bribery and to report fraudsters.

Local authorities have been provided with specially created resources, including videos, posters and a leaflet, that they can deploy locally.

Created in conjunction with agency group MSQ Partners, the comms initiative has been built on the back of research that found language barriers and low awareness of how the UK's electoral system worked made people more vulnerable.

The campaign is focused on women in particular communities, with posters and an information leaflet translated into languages including Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali.

Activity is also built on the insight that many people did not have a firm grasp on what constituted electoral fraud. For instance, a family member interfering with someone's vote could be a criminal offence.

The Electoral Commission has produced two videos, one concentrating on polling station votes and the other on postal votes.

The polling station-focused 60-second video shows a woman standing, staring at the camera as a voiceover intones: "Your vote belongs to you. Not to anyone that intimidates you. Or tries to bribe you." Another woman and a man are seen entering the frame, apparently attempting to sway and bribe the protagonist respectively.

The other video is focused on postal voters, warning voters of "anyone who intimidates, anyone pretending to be you, or anyone who tries to bribe you".

Viewers of both shorts are told how they can anonymously report attempts to steal votes at Crimestoppers, via a telephone line or web address.

In another video, Electoral Commission head of campaigns Emma Hartley speaks to camera, highlighting that voting should be "your vote alone" and that "one should not feel pressured to vote a certain way".

"And that's why the Electoral Commission has launched a new campaign working in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers and the Cabinet Office," she says. "We're running this campaign ahead of the local elections taking place in May this year.

"While proving cases of electoral fraud are rare, it is a serious crime. So as part of this campaign, we are providing resources for local authorities to use so they can empower people to protect their vote and feel confident about reporting any concerns to Crimestoppers. And they can do this 100 per cent anonymously."

In 2017, UK police forces investigated 336 cases of alleged electoral fraud, 104 of which related to voting and 36 to registration. One allegation of impersonation led to a conviction, two suspects were given cautions for impersonation and four accepted cautions in relation to registration offences.

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