How thousands are allowed to vote under false names

Battered wives, prison warders and police officers are being allowed to vote under assumed names in breach of election rules. Electoral officials revealed to our reporter that the anomaly was one of many in a system which was due for radical overhaul.

A provision for anonymous registration should be introduced to protect people who are genuinely at risk if they allowed their real names to go on the electoral roll, according to electoral officials.

Currently, registration officers are taking pity on those who claim that they and their families are at risk from having their addresses made public, and bending the rules so that they can still vote. It is believed that many others are sacrificing their suffrage rather than going on the roll.

The Independent has been given a list of proposals from the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA), which oversees the compilation of the electoral roll, which has been put to a government working party on reform being chaired by George Howarth, the Home Office minister.

Apart from introducing a facility for anonymous registration, the proposals call for trials of electronic voting. The AEA would also like disabled voters to be allowed to vote away from the polling station crush and want steps to be introduced so that blind voters could vote in secret.

John Turner, chairman of the AEA, said: "Change is needed now. Voter turnout must be improved. The election process must be modernised and improved or the organs of government will become more and more remote from the people they claim to represent."

His deputy, Colin Marshall, said: "Each registration officer knows that people are not particularly happy that their details are public knowledge; prison officers, police officers, people at risk from their estranged husbands. Unlike the council tax, there is no anonymous registration although a number of electoral registration officers get by this.

"Sometimes we put people in their maiden names, or police are put in their wife's maiden name."

He added: "It's technically wrong but I think that many election officers sympathise with people in this position. I personally know of people who have been traced by villains and either had their property vandalised or have been threatened."

The Home Office working party will look at various ways of improving electoral practices, including registration of the homeless and setting up a continuous or rolling register so that people do not lose their vote if they move home shortly before an election. It will also look at automated voting, whereby voters press a button instead of mark a cross against the name of their chosen candidate. Such electronic methods have been tried in other countries and speed up the counting process.

In its submission, the AEA expresses the view that Britain has allowed itself to rest on its laurels as the cradle of democracy. "The British electoral system is based on custom and practice going back well over a century. No exhaustive review has been carried out during that time - changes have often been piecemeal, minor or technical with little direct consequence for the voter."

The Independent has also obtained a copy of the latest British electorate figures, compiled by the Treasury and sent to the Labour MP Harry Barnes. They show that despite the activity that surrounded the run-up to last May's election, when campaigns such as Rock the Vote and Operation Black Vote aimed to attract the missing young and ethnic minority voters, there are still nearly two million people missing from the electoral register.

By last February, there were 39,229,038 people registered to vote, an increase of 235,000 on the previous year. But because the population eligible to vote increased by 179,000, the number of missing voters was only reduced by 56,000 to 1,982,434.In the Commons yesterday, Harry Barnes, the Labour MP, was to question Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, on why more is not being done to bring about "fundamental reform of the antiquated and cumbersome voter registration system".

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments