Gregory Campbell: 600% rise in proxy votes 'perverted democracy'

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has complained that a 600 per cent rise in proxy and postal voting in "one constituency" in the North at the last General Election resulted in a "perversion of democracy".

Friday, 16th November 2018, 10:10 am
Updated Friday, 16th November 2018, 11:11 am

The East Derry MP issued the complaint at Westminster this week.

During a debate on the postal voting system he asked the Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith, whether she accepted that "we must ensure that there is no repeat of what happened in the most recent election in Northern Ireland, where, because the proxy and postal-vote system did not require people to produce photographic ID, there was a 600 per cent increase in such voting in one constituency, resulting in a perversion of democracy."

Ms. Smith replied: "I am happy to take a closer look at the figure that the hon. Gentleman cites and the specifics of that case. I mention again the pilots that we have tested in 2018 and that will run again in 2019, which are about helping voters to be confident that the whole system - not only postal and proxy voting but the rest of the electoral system - is secure, by means of looking into ways for voters to identify themselves and show that they are who they say they are."

Mr. Campbell did not specify which constituency he was referring to, but both he, the unionist peer Ken Maginnis, and the SDLP's Mark H. Durkan all complained of an increase in the use of postal and proxy voting in Foyle during last year's Westminster election that returned Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion as the first republican to represent Derry since Eoin MacNeill took his mandate into the First Dáil 100 years ago.

Earlier this year Mr. Maginnis stated: “That the number of proxy votes in Durkan’s constituency increased by 800 per cent between 2010 and 2017 is almost unbelievable."

Mr. Campbell, meanwhile, remarked last year that "between the General Elections in 2015 and 2017 in Foyle there was a near 300 per cent rise in the number of proxy votes with nearly a thousand extra votes cast in this way”.

According to the minutes of a meeting between the Chief Electoral Officer for the North, Virginia McVea shortly after the June 2017 Westminster election: “She recognised that proxy vote numbers have increased and that by law there is no threshold for this, but that it is noteworthy.

"The CEO stated that it is plausible that people who are not inclined to go out and vote are being registered for proxy.”