UKIP Stretford & Urmston

Electoral Law

 

Disclaimer

 

This presentation is a brief summary of the most typical offences committed.  It cannot be a thorough briefing of all offences, because the legislation is over 600 pages.  This is intended merely to be a brief over-view of what issues you must consider during the various elections and campaigns.

 

Legislation

 

The legislation that governs an election is the Representation of the People Act 1983 ("RPA83").  There are no subordinate regulations that are made under this act.

 

Schedule 1 is an important piece of legislation that you must also be aware of. This contains all of the rules that the council must follow.  It changes regularly and is a substantial piece of legislation.

 

On that page you will also find a link to the most up-to-date commons' briefing paper on electoral offences committed since 2010.  You can also find that here:

 

Summary & Link:

http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06255

Briefing:

http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06255/SN06255.pdf

 

See also the January 2014 Electoral Commission investigation into Electoral Fraud and note the areas that are most subject to fraud.


See also the December 2010 Commons briefing paper on
electoral fraud since 2010.

 

Offences

 

The most common offences that are reported to the police are found in a very helpful schedule HERE.

 

That gives you 23 pages of the offences and where the offences derive from.  Page 18 to 37 of the Briefing Paper sets out the allegations made in the 2010 to 2015 period.  Even if a crime is not prosecuted, merely being accused or of accusing someone of electoral fraud can be very damaging.

 

I set out on the next page the legislation you need to know - ie what crimes are listed.  I  suggest that you read the electoral commission's paper in January 2014 on electoral fraud, which confirms that places like Oldham are subject to and likely to have electoral fraud in the elections.  There is also a statement by the commission as to what sections of the community are most likely to be a party to electoral fraud.  I have not covered offences relating to ballots and the running of elections.

 

Criminal Offences are as follows:

 

s. 60 Personation.

s. 61 Other voting offences

s. 62 Offences as to declarations.

s. 62A Offences relating to applications for postal and proxy votes

s. 62B Scottish local government elections: offences relating to applications for postal and proxy votes

s. 63 Breach of official duty.

s. 65 Tampering with nomination papers, ballot papers etc.

s. 65A False statements in nomination papers etc.

s. 66 Requirement of secrecy.

s. 66A Prohibition on publication of exit polls.

s. 66B Failure to comply with conditions relating to supply etc. of certain documents

 

What you need to know is as follows:

 

1. 62(1) RPA83: Offences as to declarations

 

This is making a declaration when you cannot or when you know it contains a false statement.  This can be in regards to your 10 names on your nomination paper, or on your returns after an election.  There is an unlimited fine for doing this.  It is very serious, but only one case has ever referenced it and that was within a libel action rather than an action pursuant to this section: Coad v Cruze [2009] EWHC 3782 (QB).  That is a case involving a conservative councillor who stood as a Parliamentary Candidate and sued a local political group for saying things about her in a leaflet, including that she had committed an offence under s. 62.

 

What You Need to Know:

If you sign a declaration or an electoral return, you can get fined for it.

 

2. Section 65: Tampering with nomination papers, ballot papers etc.

 

This is probably never going to be an issue, but you should be aware of it in case you know of or see someone else doing this.  The important point is subsection (1):

 

(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence, if, at a parliamentary or local government election, he—

(a) fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any nomination paper; or

(b) fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any ballot paper, or the official mark on any postal voting statement or ballot paper, or any declaration of identity or official envelope used in connection with voting by post; or

(c) without due authority supplies any ballot paper to any person; or

(d) fraudulently puts into any ballot box any paper other than the ballot paper which he is authorised by law to put in; or

(e) fraudulently takes out of the polling station any ballot paper; or

(f) without due authority destroys, takes, opens or otherwise interferes with any ballot box or packet of ballot papers then in use for the purposes of the election; or

(g) fraudulently or without due authority, as the case may be, attempts to do any of the foregoing acts.

 

A returning officer or anyone counting (or linked) commits an offence, they can be jailed for 2 years and fined.  Anyone else can be fined and jailed for up to 6 months.  Two recent cases involved this:

 

Ali v Bashir [2013] EWHC 2572 (QB) and  Erlam v Rahman [2015] EWHC 1215 (QB)

 

 I strongly recommend you read them both.

 

What You Need to Know:

You should not need to, but it would protect your branch and your candidate if they were given a warning before any campaign that if they tamper with the papers they can (and probably will) go to prison and/or receive a big fine.

 

3.  S. 65A: False Statements on Nomination Papers

 

This can be done by anyone (s. 65A(1)) or the candidate (s. 65A(1A)) and, as you would expect, is very serious.  Anything written on a nomination paper that is not true is a corrupt practice, and can lead to imprisonment of 6 or 12 months and/or a fine.

 

What You Need to Know:

 

Simply put, do not lie on a nomination paper.  People from every party have been found to have added names on to their nomination papers so every party - including UKIP - checks the nomination papers and quite often approach the nominator to ask if they really signed it.

 

See: Morrison v Carmichael 2015 S.L.T. 675; 2015 G.W.D. 32-524 (IH) and R. v Fadaka (Jefferson Michael)  [2015] EWCA Crim 1017 (CA (Crim Div))

 

The R v Fadaka case involved a false statement and he got a six month sentence. The brief facts were as follows. Fadaka applied to stand as a conservative candidate for the Enfield Lock Ward in the Enfield London Borough Council election of 22nd May 2014. In October 2013 the Campaign Manager for the Conservative Association spent 45 minutes with the appellant explaining to him the process for nomination. On 4th November 2013 the appellant completed and returned the candidate's Consent to Nomination form. The form asked the question “Have you been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to not less than three months' imprisonment, including a suspended sentence, in the last five years?”. It was clearly stated that: “If the answer is ‘yes' you will not be able to stand for election”. The answer to this question from the appellant was “No”. That was untrue and he had therefore made a false entry. The appellant's nomination form was presented to the Electoral Registration Officer, who reviewed the information, and the appellant was authorised to stand for election.  Fadaka, now 34 years of age, had received cautions in 2002 and 2003 and a conviction in 2005 for offences of dishonesty. In 2011 the appellant had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of dishonesty relating to false claims for income support and housing benefit, for which he received a suspended sentence of 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years.  The Court of Appeal said:

11 We share the view of the sentencing judge that an immediate custodial sentence was called for in these circumstances, where the appellant had deliberately lied about his previous convictions in order to gain public office, and as such that would serve to undermine the integrity of the democratic process. We also share the view that his previous convictions were an aggravating feature. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed.

 

4. Section 66: Requirement of secrecy

 

In the age of Facebook, Twitter and telephones with cameras this section is taking on a new twist.  During the GE2015 there were many reports that people had taken photos of their postal votes or take a photo of their ballot paper in the polling station resulted in Labour and the Conservatives making  a number of complaints.  Put simply, make sure no one puts a picture of their ballot paper on-line.

 

What You Need To Know:

 

Both the process of being elected and the count are very important to democracy and every person is entitled to their vote being secret.  Tell your followers and branch members what the law says, because they can get in serious trouble and could result in your candidate being removed, even if they win.  They can go to prison for six months and be fined.

 

You should also be aware that s. 66A prohibits an exit poll being published before the poll has closed.

 

5.  Section 97(1) Disturbances at election meetings

 

Section 95 and 96 allow candidate to use rooms for free at schools or council offices for the purposes of "furtherance of his candidature" so s/he can hold a public meeting.  It is an offence for such a meeting to be disturbed.  It is an offence.  This can be used by you when HateNotHope tries messing up your meeting, but can be used against you if one of your people attends a meeting held by another candidate.

 

What You Need to Know:

 

You can hold, free of charge, a public meeting with sufficient notice and during reasonable office hours.  If someone attempts to interfere with the business of the meeting, you can have them fined £200 (if they do not give you their name and address and/or leave).  Remember this during the next election.  Ask your members and candidates not to attend any Labour or Conservative public meetings held in a school or council office and try an disrupt it.

 

 Other illegal practices, payments, employments or hirings

 

s. 106 False statements as to candidates.

s. 107 Corrupt withdrawal from candidature.

s. 108 Premises not to be used as committee rooms.

s. 109 Payments for exhibition of election notices.

s. 110 Details to appear on election publications.

s. 111 Prohibition of paid canvassers.

s. 112 Providing money for illegal purposes.

 

 

6.  section 106 False Statements about candidates

 

This, I think, is the most important section and is widely used.  If you say something that is not true about another candidate and vice versa, this section may be used.  It is used a lot.  The most important part is that it can include a statement by others, though it would need to be proven that you knew or directed someone to make the statement.  Being found guilty under this section can have your candidacy revoked and your election reversed, it is that serious.

Abbas v Yousuf [2014] EWHC 662 (QB)

The Abbas case involved a statement in a paper of “Stop Wife-Beating Mayoral Candidate Helal Abbas”, and, second, an extract from that advertisement published in an article which appeared on the same page under the hearing “A right Mayoral Punch-Up”.

 

R. (on the application of Woolas) v Parliamentary Election Court [2010] EWHC 3169 (Admin) and  Watkins v Woolas [2010] EWHC 2702 (QB)

 

This case saw the Oldham & Saddleworth Labour MP accused of making five untrue statements about the Lib Dem candidate.  Phil Woolas MP lost his seat and was banned from public office for three years because of it, triggering a by-election.  Important to look at this.  The GE result saw Labour with 14,186 votes and Lib Dems with 14,083.  The by-election saw Labour returned with 14,718 and Lib Dems on 11,160.

 

Erlam v Rahman  and Abbas v Yousuf  include s. 106 offences, as well as many other cases.

 

The criminal sanction for s. 106 is a fine.  However, libel actions usually follow them.  And, if you are found to have done it, then a petition is likely to be made (s. 120) to have you removed from office.

 

What You Need To Know:

 

Do not make statements that you cannot evidence.  If you make statements on a blog or in a youtube video or a leaflet make sure you evidence it.  Have a look at my website on the blogs or in the Fork In Politics pages.  Every statement I make is backed up with a link to an external source evidencing my statements.  It might not be a problem today, but if you are in a by-election or during one of the elections someone re-tweets or re-blogs it you could end up with a s. 106 problem.  Your candidate is at risk if someone else makes a statement.  For example, suggesting someone is corrupt or has done an illegal practice without them having been prosecuted or found guilty is a very dangerous thing to do.   Only make statements that someone else has breached the law if you have seen them in the press as having been found guilty.  Suggesting or stating that someone has taken a back-hander or has fiddled with a postal vote is really stupid unless you have very good evidence - please do not do this.  If you make a youtube video put your citations in the description or link to a blob or website that has the citations.  If you have no citation do not do it.

 

7.  Section 107 Corrupt Withdrawal

 

If you or someone you control makes another candidate withdraw for a corrupt reason, you can get an unlimited fine. "Any person who corruptly induces or procures any other person to withdraw from being a candidate at an election, in consideration of any payment or promise of payment, and any person withdrawing in pursuance of the inducement or procurement, shall be guilty of an illegal payment."

 

 

8.  Section 109: Payments for exhibition of election notices

 

No payment or contract for payment shall for the purposes of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at an election be made to an elector or their proxy on account of the use of any house, land, building or premises for the exhibition of any address, bill or notice unless:

1. it is the ordinary business of the elector or proxy as an advertising agent to exhibit for payment bills and advertisements, and

2. the payment is made in the ordinary course of that business

 

Again, it has an unlimited fine.

 

9.  Section 110: Details to appear on election publications (‘the imprint’)

 

The annoying imprint that must go on everything is contained in s. 110.  To fail to include a full and correct imprint is an illegal activity.  You should also note that local elections in Scotland has been repealed.

 

10.  Paying Canvassers (s. 111) and Providing Money for Illegal Purposes (s. 112)

 

This should be explained to members of your branch and all incoming candidates.  Simply put, do not pay anyone to canvass (knock on doors and speak to people, or stand in teh street).  You can pay someone to post leaflets, just not canvass.

 

S. 112 is making money available for

a. for any payment which is contrary to the provisions of the Act, or

b. for any expenses incurred in excess of the maximum amount allowed by this Act, or

c. for replacing any money expended in such payment or expenses

unless the payment or incurring of expenses may have been previously allowed in pursuance of section 167 as an exception.

 

11.  Section 113: Bribery

 

This should be obvious, but I have included it anyway.  You can be jailed for six or 12 months and/or given an unlimited fine and will be banned from holding office.  It is classed as a corrupt practice:

 

(2) A person shall be guilty of bribery if he, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf—

(a)  gives any money or procures any office to or for any voter or to or for any other person on behalf of any voter or to or for any other person in order to induce any voter to vote or refrain from voting, or

(b)  corruptly does any such act as mentioned above on account of any voter having voted or refrained from voting, or

(c)  makes any such gift or procurement as mentioned above to or for any person in order to induce that person to procure, or endeavour to procure, the return of any person at an election or the vote of any voter,

or if upon or in consequence of any such gift or procurement as mentioned above he procures or engages, promises or endeavours to procure the return of any person at an election or the vote of any voter.

 

12.  treating

 

This happens a lot and can be done unintentionally - such as buying someone a pint or a coffee or offering free food and beverages at a meeting.  It is really serious, and parties just love to accuse other parties of this, including a UKIP candidate being reported for giving away free sausage rolls.  Do note that you can also be found guilty if you accept treating.

 

114.— Treating.

(1) A person shall be guilty of a corrupt practice if he is guilty of treating.

(2) A person shall be guilty of treating if he corruptly, by himself or by any other person, either before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly gives or provides, or pays wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing, any meat, drink, entertainment or provision to or for any person—

(a) for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or any other person to vote or refrain from voting; or

(b) on account of that person or any other person having voted or refrained from voting, or being about to vote or refrain from voting.

(3) Every elector or his proxy who corruptly accepts or takes any such meat, drink, entertainment or provision shall also be guilty of treating.

 

13.  Section 115 - Undue influence

 

115.— Undue influence.

(1) A person shall be guilty of a corrupt practice if he is guilty of undue influence.

(2) A person shall be guilty of undue influence—

(a) if he, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, makes use of or threatens to make use of any force, violence or restraint, or inflicts or threatens to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel that person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of that person having voted or refrained from voting; or

(b) if, by abduction, duress or any fraudulent device or contrivance, he impedes or prevents, or intends to impede or prevent, the free exercise of the franchise of an elector or proxy for an electors, or so compels, induces or prevails upon, or intends so to compel, induce or prevail upon, an elector or proxy for any elector either to vote or to refrain from voting.

 

This can (and has) including putting out leaflets as if they were another party's leaflets.

 

Note that this includes temporal and spiritual influence.  In the Rahman case one of the claims (and there were many) included having local Imams tell people who to vote for.  This happens a lot, and I would expect s. 115 to be used a lot over the next five years.  Again, this results in a fine and imprisonment.  Those found guilty can 9and usually are) barred from public office.

 

14.  Section 120/121 & 127: Questioning the election

 

If you or someone in your branch thinks they have solid evidence of a practice that is illegal or corrupt, then a petition may be moved to question the election.  This is relatively rare, but moving forward with such a petition should only ever be done where you have the funds to pursue the case.  You will be required to show that you can afford to pay the opponent's costs in the event that you lose.  S. 182 has the rules for doing this.  You are strongly urged not to consider this unless you have some serious money behind you and your evidence is impeccable.  The person presenting the petition must be someone who voted.  Usually it is members of the public who have no connection with a party who bring such petitions.  I would not imagine that a party is not behind most petitions.

 

Finally, I would urge you to read the relevant leaflets and papers that are produced by the electoral commission.  I do urge you to read their 2014 paper on fraud, as it includes statements about who is most likely to be involved in electoral fraud.  I did an article on it just after the Oldham West election, please look at the citations I have included, there is a lot of data available for you there.

 

And, if you have any questions please contact me.  I am more than happy to discuss anything.  If you ever believe that you have a genuine case against another party please make sure you only talk to members of the party and the party's lawyers.  making a statement that another person or party has acted in an illegal way is likely going to see you sued for libel unless you are able to follow through.  Make sure you have covered your back and do not let anyone know except for the regional co-ordinator and anyone he advises you to speak to.  A simple statement of "that was corrupt" will get you sued.  Do not make that mistake.

 

Equally, if you ever have another party accuse you of illegal or corrupt practices, deal with it.  get the party involved and get the party's lawyers involved.  It is very serious, and you should never let a statement like that slide.

 

 

Kalvin Chapman

13/12/2015 

 

 

 

UKIP Stretford & Urmston is a fully constituted branch of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  Mike Bayley-Sanderson is the branch chairman.  All material on this part of the website is copyright UKIP Stretford & Urmston 2016/17.