Thousands of students may have voted twice to try to put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.The Electoral Commission yesterday told it was investigating ‘troubling’ evidence of illegality on polling day.The watchdog warned a change in law might be needed to catch offenders.By having term-time and home addresses, students can register to vote in more than one place.Tory MPs believe thousands may have taken advantage of this opportunity lured by Labour’s promise to scrap tuition fees and cancel their debts.After election a number boasted on social media of multiple voting.
Commission said that it had received more than 1,000 emails from the public as well as 38 complaints from MPs.The watchdog told it lacked evidence of ‘widespread abuse’ but acknowledged that no checks were made to spot multiple voting.Conservative MP Peter Bone said ‘The Electoral Commission and the police need to look at this very seriously.’I fear this happened more than people think, not by chance, but by design. I fear that it was organised.
‘There were a number of students on social media boasting that they had voted in more than one place.’Did it affect the outcome of the election? I think it might have done. There were lots of seats where 40 or 50 votes made all the difference.’Commission highlighted unusual surges in voter registration in a number of university towns and cities, including Canterbury where Labour won the seat for first time.Former Tory MP Karl McCartney, who lost his Lincoln seat to Labour last month, told ‘We have screenshots of students on Facebook saying that they voted twice.’Potentially, this was a factor in my defeat. Of the 3,200 who registered to vote in last 24 hours, 500 were already registered.
‘Turnout in two high student areas, which is traditionally low, was up 15 %, which is phenomenal.’South Derbyshire Tory MP Heather Wheeler told some students claimed they had voted four times.The Electoral Commission is independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK.It is illegal to vote twice the fine can be £5,000 but it is not illegal to register in more than one constituency.The commission told it was working with police on how to investigate the allegations, adding: ‘Tools to prevent double voting at general elections should be explored quickly.’It admitted it relied on complaints from the public to identify electoral fraud. There is no automatic way of checking names of postal voters against those voting in person because the information is held locally.It means that those with more than one residence including students, second home owners and MPs, among others could potentially vote twice. 2017 election result has been attributed to a record turnout of young people under the age of 34.Labour targeted students in its manifesto, making its flagship policy a pledge to scrap university tuition fees.There were reports that some students submitted postal votes in their home towns and voted in person at their university seats.
Latest pictures show there were 2.28 million students at university in 2015-6. In a number of areas with high student populations voter registration increased by more than 10 %.These include Canterbury, Cambridge, Brighton Pavilion, Leeds North West and Leeds Central.The report found a record 46.8million registered to vote on June 8 , 500,000 more than in 2015.Of these, nearly two million aged 18-34 applied to vote after Mrs May announced snap poll.
The Electoral Commission told ‘urgent’ steps were needed to reduce the scale of duplicate registrationsIt warned that in some areas, number of applications from people already on the electoral register was up by up to 70 %.’Although people may lawfully be registered to vote in more than one place in certain circumstances, it is troubling that some voters appear to have admitted voting more than once at the general election, which is an offence,’ it told.’Urgent action is needed to reduce both scale and the administrative impact of duplicate registration applications ahead of future polls.’Information is held locally, which means that duplicate applications are not automatically detected if a voter applies online and by post.A spokesman added last night ‘Any allegations of electoral fraud should be reported to the police immediately on the non-emergency 101 number.’