Thursday, May 03, 2007

How does Labour Know Postal Vote Results?

This is strange. Andy McSmith has written a story in the Independent which appears to suggest that the Labour Party knows the result of postal voting in Scotland. Unless I have missed a change in electoral law postal votes are not counted until the proper count this evening. How could they possibly know these figures?
Labour's organisers in Scotland think they have won a last-minute victory
over the Scottish Nationalists in a battle for control of the Scottish
Parliament. Results from postal voting in key constituencies have reinforced
opinion-poll evidence of a swing to Labour. In Ochil, a seat currently held by
the SNP, Labour has taken 457 out of 981 votes cast by post. The SNP has 322,
the Tories 127 and the Liberal Democrats 75. In another key marginal,
Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Labour's David Whitton,a former aide to the man who
created the Scottish Parliament, the late Donald Dewar, has picked up 202 postal
votes out of about 700. The other main candidates have between 100 and 150. The
seat is held by an independent, Jean Turner.

This is deeply worrying.

67 comments:

Voyager said...

Not surprising though Iain. Gazprom wants to invest in Britain because it sees the political climate as compatible with its domestic marketplace.

Scotland is what Germans call Amigoland the kind of fiefdom the CSU has made Bavaria by hook and by crook

Anonymous said...

This is rubbish.

They couldn't possibly know.

Labour know jack. Presumably they are trying to motivate their base to turn-out by suggesting there's still a chance of victory.

It depends on;

(1) What % of total votes are postal votes
(2) Whether this trend is the same in every constituency

I doubt they know the answer to either of these.

What they (might) have done is count up their canvassed "committed" supporters, who asked for a postal vote, and then cross-checked their lists with the electoral register when the postal votes came in for verification. In other words, put 2 and 2 together and made 5.

SNP will still be on top - albeit narrowly.

Pedant said...

Why do you think the parties have been attending the opening of the postal votes this week? Not because they don't trust the returning officer and his employees, but to get a sly peep at the postal votes, of course.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Pedant is right. You can get a reasonable idea as to how things are going when postal votes are opened (not counted).

Electoral Commission said...

But Pedant, my understanding is that when you attend the opening of the postal votes you undertake to keep the 'results' private - if they have stated the numbers as ID reports they can and should be prosecuted.

Chris said...

Pedant, if I remember correctly it is illegal to "count" the votes during the verification process of postal votes prior to the official count.

BaldockBaldrick said...

I know a candidate who has said he can find out the results of the postal vote before the results are read out in his ward tomorrow. I checked with the council and they said this is not possible...but it wouldn't surprise me. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Chris Paul said...

We always used to have tellers present each day or each opening to oversee the process. We were allowed to observe the papers face up in the same way as on election night. Who knows what is going on in Scotland?

I see Pedant has got their first. But you are so suspicious Iain! Not re-done your sums yet on that Eurostar "scandal"?

Socialism in communist clothing said...

Iain

The consistent breaking of UK law by this government is deeply shocking. Without question 5 ministers have broken the law in the past year, ministers consistently lie to parliament and the public and now it turns out that the very democratic process is completely corrupted.

Why do the police and judiciary do nothing about it? Why does it take a member of SNP to lodge a complaint with the police rather than a member of the more mainstream opposition?

We must do something about this or we risk a very ugly situation in the future. Imagine if this government hadnt been elected yet and swept to power in 2009, for any government as spiteful, corrupt and as morally bankrupt as NuLab could start from the current democratic position we find ourselves in now. It is truly frightening to consider.

We have NO parliamentary accountability, no media scrutiny worth its name, no moral code, no ministerial responsibility, no independent institutions and no way of stopping blatant criminality.

What is worse we have a governmnet that claims to protect the weakest in society when all they do subjugate the population, introduce restrictions on our civil liberties and nobody seems to notice. The worst example was the response of Bliars in Parliament over torture flights. Here we have a so called caring Labour Party sanctioning torture of individuals, everyone knows they are guilty given the EU/OECD comments and yet nothing happens.

If Cameron said he would hold a royal commission (or similar) into the conduct of this government, and abide by its recommendation s even if they didnt suit the Tory Party, he would sweep to power in a landslide that would dwarf 1997. Why doesnt he do it? Think how many terrible crimes NuLab have actually managed to hide we dont know about yet?

What do we do?

BaldockBaldrick said...

should have mentioned in my posting earlier that I think the candidate I know was telling porkies. But I'm going to look into it further...

Chris said...

Yup, it's wholly illegal if my reading of article 4a of Section 66 of the Representation of the People Act is correct.

"(4) Every person attending the proceedings in connection with the issue or the
receipt of ballot papers for persons voting by post shall maintain and aid in
maintaining the secrecy of the voting and shall not –
(a) except for some purpose authorised by law, communicate, before the poll
is closed, to any person any information obtained at those proceedings
as to the official mark;"

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/files/dms/AppendixC_24202-17924__E__N__S__W__.pdf

Pedant said...

I didn't say what they do is either legal or right. I just said what they do.

SFIE said...

Chris, well stated - so which one of us is going to report the crime to the police?

more vulgar than a vulcans vulva said...

Simple:

Labour = Mother F**king Criminal Professional C*nts

Chuck Unsworth said...

So is now the moment for the formal complaint to the Electoral Commission? Surely declarations should not be made until all polls are closed - although this might not be construed as a formal declaration. Certainly something strange is going on. Maybe McSmith might like to tell the Electoral Commission how he came by this information.

Electoral Commission said...

Yes a formal complaint should be made to the Electoral Commission, you could argue that the poll should be voided as this illegal declaration by Labour Party Officials could have effected the outcome of the election

Pedant said...

Iain. I'm beginning to think some of your commenters are babes in arms when it comes to the real side of politics. That can't be true, can it?

Anonymous said...

My understanding, Iain, is that in Scotland postal votes are counted before polling day with the results revealed to the candidates. Some differences in electoral law between England and Scotland, must like the whole signs on public lamp posts phenomenon. So I don't think it's a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that last post wasn't very coherent but I think you get the idea.

Chris said...

"6.11 Votes themselves are not counted at opening sessions, although the number
of ballot papers is counted. Opening sessions are intended to identify ballot papers
that are accompanied by validly completed postal voting statements and that can
therefore be included in the count.
6.12 Candidates and agents can observe but may not interfere with the opening
process. All those attending the opening of postal ballots must maintain the secrecy
of the ballot, and candidates and agents should not make any attempt to see how
any individual ballot paper is marked, nor make any attempt to take notes of how
ballot papers are marked. If you or your agent have any concerns about the opening
process, you should raise them immediately with the Returning Officer or a member
of their staff."

That is from the Scottish Election guidance on the electoral commission website. http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/files/dms/Candidate-guidance-SP2007_24827-18410__S__.pdf

Anyone here live in the constituencies concerned? If so they ought to contact the returning officer immediately.

Anonymous said...

Surely this is no different to 'hype' of 'canvassed returns' i.e. what the voters say to get rid of the person knocking at their door, so that they can get back to watching Coronation Street.

Of course, if they have been 'helping' the people complete the votes that is a different matter, but I don't see why they would risk it after the furore in Birmingham a few years back...

Anonymous said...

jonathan sheppard - but surely it is illegal to touch the postal votes until after 10pm on election night ?

If they are being opened in advance of that I would be very cross indeed - this is surely just the sort of thing which would cause a scandal.

The parties would know exactly which wards or areas to target a carpet bombing of leaflets, door knocking, lifts to polling stations on the evening of the election.

Iain - if this really is going on it needs to be exposed and stopped!

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the Representation of the People Act has not been broken at all.

It all comes down to the phrase "the secrecy of the voting" - I'd take that to refer to how individual people voted (which is potentially ascertainable from the numbers on the back of the ballot papers) rather than to the aggregate-level results of those ballots. If that is so, then no one would have done anything wrong in reporting the results they'd calculated from attending the opening of the postal ballots.

And, as to the second section of the Act quoted above - that relating to "the official mark" - it is totally irrelevant because no one is suggesting that Labour were trying to sneak out details of the stamps used to mark the ballot papers.

Pedant said...

Anonymous 4.35. They are ALWAYS opened in advance. In most cases this week there will have been opening sessions on Mon Tues Wed and today. This has been the case as long as I can remember, and I'm afraid that's quite a long time.

Anonymous said...

Checking absent votes at their verification is perfectly normal but from experience not a good guide to eventual result. This story is all about Labour spin giving their voters confidence to come out and not sit at home. Surprided (or Not) that the Indy rag swallowed the story.

Pedant said...

Anonymous 4.50. You are right in respect of Parliamentary. In local government the parties can find it very useful, ie you are looking at a snapshot affecting only c12000 voters. Having said that you need to know what you are doing, and over-confident beginners can make a bollock of it.

Chris Paul said...

Good point from last anonymous 4:50. All the figures may be made up ... on the other hand if you look at most of the Lib Dem cheating manuals, I mean campaigning manuals, they talk about giving hot numbers out under the guise of a recent party poll. Or that's what it looks like.

The other suggestion about these being the figures of id'd voters who used their vote is highly likely and febrile Indy journos are highly likely to get the nuances wrong and stir up angst in Tories who are ... cheerleading for the SNP and Plaid.

Which are more or less "socialist" parties? Plaid certainly think they are. And unlike the conservative and unionist party NOT unionists at all.

Noël said...

Iain, it may not be to do with that. Since the parties all have lists of people who have postal votes, they sometimes go around the houses asking if people have returned their postal votes and to encourage them to return them if they haven't. It is possible that they have the data from going door-to-door on that basis, although you could question just how accurate that is - but it does give an indication.

Desperate Dan said...

On BBC2 yesterday after PMQs Nick Robinson told Andrew Neil he had been told that the postal votes in Scotland showed Labour support was much greater than the opinion polls were suggesting.

Roger Thornhill said...

Some might say that Labour know the result of postal ballots because it was they that filled them in, but I could not possibly comment...

politically restricted said...

As has been previously pointed out, it's not illegal to have a rough idea of how the postal votes have split if you saw them being opened the day before poll - which still happens in most areas. However, it is illegal to break the secrecy of the count (and this counts as part of it). More recently, the law was changed to prevent parties from issuing spurious leaflets on polling day pretending to know how voting was going - something the Lib Dems used to do but have now stopped. This new law would encompass pretending (however accurately) to know how the postal votes have been cast. Whilst the law change was aimed at party leaflets, it equally applies to comments to the press. There is a strong case to suggest that the law has been broken here.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

They will know: these votes are being counted by government officials who tend to be labour supporters and they are leaking what they see.

However, the reason that Zanu-Labour love the lax postal votes system despite its cancerous influence on our democracy is because it massively favours the labour vote even before any fraud is taken into account.

Its the labour voters who can't be arsed to go to the polls, but can be cajoled by family/neighbours/carers into signing the forms and voting for the dependency state.

Hence postal vote results will NOT predict the traditional Poll Station vote but they will influence the result.

sshhhh its bad for Labour said...

elections didnt figure in the top 6 stories on bbc 6 o'clock news.

surprise,surprise climate change was the top story

pathetic

Anonymous said...

If these are real votes, what's the problem??

Anonymous said...

Chris Paul: you said, "if you look at most of the Lib Dem cheating manuals, I mean campaigning manuals, they talk about giving hot numbers out under the guise of a recent party poll."

Have you got any quotes to backup your claim that the Lib Dems tell people to publish figures from postal vote opennings in their leaflets (dressed up as something else)?

You've made a very specific accusation, so I'm sure you've got very specific evidence to back it up...

Anonymous said...

Most things about this Labour government have been, "deeply worrying",so no change there.

Anonymous said...

In my limited experience I've known candidates to hint at the postal votes after the opening, but they've never given numbers.

They've just said its close or going in our direction. Probably to buoy the activists more than predicting results though.

Anonymous said...

In my limited experience I've known candidates to hint at the postal votes after the opening, but they've never given numbers.

They've just said its close or going in our direction. Probably to buoy the activists more than predicting results though.

ill never pay the licence fee said...

french elections were reported ahead of our own - good old BBC - EU/Climate change agenda and bugger everything else

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha! - Michael White makes mincemeat of Guido.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r5d2Ccpo3I

tony the hairdresser said...

You may recall after the Birmingham 2004 local elections, the Judge - Richard Mawrey QC - describing the behaviour of Labour Party councillors and activists as "electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic"

All six councillors strenuously denied rigging the ballots and being improperly elected. During the trials, which were held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute and lasted four weeks, the court heard evidence of wholesale theft of votes in the city, with thousands of postal ballots being diverted to a "safe house" where they were filled in on an "industrial scale".

I'm suprised you havn't figureed it.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, you were spinning the results of the Euro Elections in North Norfolk in 2004 before the official count on Sunday. You know full well that the postal votes are verified face down (like the euros, but you can see through the ballot paper.

Anonymous said...

SNP always do bad in postal votes. So it's normal they're behind Labour in them

Duncan Borrowman said...

As the author of the Liberal Democrats' Campaigns Manual 4th and 5th editions I can categorically state that there is nothing in them saying to make public postal voting figures.
When postal votes are opened it is often quite easy to take samples for your own purposes to see how things are going. But publishing extrapolations from those figures is highly dodgy.

Anonymous said...

HARDLy worrying - its because of sampling not an exact science

gordon brown's best friend said...

Oh c'mon people. Anyone can tell who's cast a postal vote for Labour even before they're opened.
It's the drool stains on the envelopes that give the game away...

Andrewjkitch said...

Iain

It is about time the Electoral Commission was put in the hands of 3 senior judges, rather than Sam Younger et al. The body politic is corrupt, and needs sorting out pronto.

Getting rid of postal voting as far as possible (why not vote at weekends to make it easier for people), and, as a Tory, I know you won't like this, but STV for local government, would maximise turnout, and minimise the 'rotten borough' effect.

Liberal Republican said...

I think you have to see what happens when the real results has been declared.

Anonymous said...

The trouble is we don't know what the "real" results are until the courts have ruled on all the dodgy postal votes being contested.

Anonymous said...

This blog is very anti-Labour but it is telling that positive comments about Cameron are rare.

Anonymous said...

I understand some wards won't be counting the votes tonight. but tomorrow morning. I wonder why. This has never happened before. The longer votes remain uncounted, the greater the scope for fraud and tampering.

Anonymous said...

Right - that's it. I'd switched to postal voting for convenience, but I, and I suspect thousands of others are switching back to voting in person.

Excuse my french, but this is a fucking scandal, it stinks, and if I knew they were opening postal ballots in advance of the polls closing I for one wouldn't have signed up to it.

This needs to exposed through the main stream media - it is riddled with controversy and wide open to abuse. Why on earth to they set aside the day after for counting ballots if the postal ballots are opened in advance of the polls closing ? This gives the impression that the postal ballots aren't being opened until the night of the election !!!!!

I feel like I've been shafted, and I'm bloody bloody furious.

Never again am I falling for this corruptible and incompetent practice.

Anonymous said...

DUNCAN BORROWMAN
"When postal votes are opened it is often quite easy to take samples for your own purposes to see how things are going. But publishing extrapolations from those figures is highly dodgy."

Why are you doing this you corrupt fuckwit !? You are supposed to be impartially supervising democracy, not trying to see how well your efforts at 'getting out the vote' are going. You should be bloody ashamed and disgusted with yourself you self-serving twat !!! This is absolutely scandalous and I hope the mainstream media gives you and the rest of your corrupt cronies the roasting you deserve.

'Highly dodgy' - it should be 100% impossible you buffoon !!! This is absolutely disgusting and I'm sorry for my bad language but I can't begin to describe how annoyed and frustrated I am that this disgusting breach of trust is happening in our democracy !!

Thank goodness that Iain Dale has had the courage to expose this evil and disgusting practice. After this I pledge NEVER EVER EVER to vote for a Liberal Demotwat ever again, or have my vote hijacked, abused and mistreated by you bunch of bollock juggling imbeciles since I will never allow my vote to be done postally EVER again.

There - are you happy with what you've achieved to 'improve' your party's turnout now ?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't Give a Shit about a few postal votes.

What matters is that Cameron is Given a Good enough Kicking to make him turn into a PROPER Conservative PDQ.

BaldockBaldrick said...

Just found out that around 2,000 postal votes in Stevenage were sent to the wrong address. A fault with the system apparently. Hmm, a fault with the whole idea if you ask me.
Go on Iain, give my blog a go. You know you want to.

SFIE said...

anon 8.24 - twat

Anonymous said...

What if they had a good canvas? If they had found out the intention of postal voters (of which they have lists) and then they extrapolated the data from that, then it's not illegal.

Anonymous said...

sfie
Please Explain your response to my post.

I would dearly love to have a Conservative Government running the UK again. IMHO this will not happen until Cameron becomes a Conservative in Public, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

untermensch said...

Brinnnggg Brinnnggg, Brinnnggg Brinnnggg.

Hello, Yates speaking.

Hello sir, Commissioner's Office here. The Commissioner says that you should pack your bag. It looks as if you are off to Scotland. Something about more corrupt practices again from those Nulab people.

Yates: Right you are, I'm on my way.

Anonymous said...

anonymous:8.24.
Yeah mate, that's right, democracy is a relative concept and we can safely ignore any practices that would disgrace a banana republic.
In that vein we reserve the right to give Cameron,"a good kicking,"if and when he f***s up the country like this lot of Labour morons.

Jess The Dog said...

This sounds like spin.

If the results were known and divulged to try and motivate demoralised voters, then that would be a naughty thing and illegal.

If the results were not known and a story was concocted that they were to try and motivate demoralised voters, then that would be a naughty thing but not illegal.

I glanced over the story and, rather than feeling a sinking sense of despair, I thought that - if true - then the Labour figures were remarkably low for postal voting and that a kicking was likely at the ballot box proper.

I get the feeling that Labour still have a functioning centre, with the normal practices of spin, pushing postal votes and calling in favours from political editors, but that there is very little outwith the centre.

Anonymous said...

ygOne consequence of the vogue for postal voting is that more people have to cast their votes before the end of the election campaign. This makes the campaign less significant as an influence on the outcome.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

But we all agree, don't we, that postal voting on demand is a rotten idea.

It is particularly open to abuse by the Labour party in inner city wards with large Muslim populations. That, of course, is why the government introduced it.

(There was some fancy talk about "rigorous safeguards", but Richard Mawbrey QC, the elections judge, soon blew that out of the water with his reference to "arrangements which would disgrace a banana republic.")

It would have been an equally rotten idea if the Tories had introduced it, not least because a postal vote may not be secret and a secret ballot is something our ancestors fought long and hard to achieve.

PS. Don't try posting this sort of comment on The Grauniad's blogs. You'll only get banned for racism.

Pedant said...

Don't blame the parties for doing what they're legally allowed to do. Like soldiers, they'll use any weapon that comes to hand.

Normal Mouth said...

I have just heard the newly elected Welsh Assembly Member for Cardiff North, Jonathan Morgan tell BBC Wales that “The postal votes over the past week and a helf showed that we were ahead of Labour” (that's verbatim).

Do you find this deeply worrying as well?

Anonymous said...

Why do people find this mysterious?

You have the official procedure of opening the external envelope, then you store them until counting time. During that period Nulab helpfully opens the inner envelopes to weed out nasty bnp votes and replace them with shiny nulab votes before placing them in new envelopes. Obviously they can't help but notice how the votes are split.

Anonymous said...

Labour organisers knew the postal vote counts in the May 2006 local council and mayoral election well before the counts here in Hackney, as did many relatively junior council officials. That didn't shock anyone. What really shocked people was that certain declared results differed widely from the figures that had been put out two or three days earlier. Sorry I can't give my name, for obvious reasons, but be assured that this is true.