Recent reports of vote “stealing”, through false registrations and postal vote grabbing are worrying, but possibly of greater concern are semi-institutionalised attempts at vote influencing.
In recent months it appears that the National Union of Students have encouraged Universities to release records of students living in halls, to local authorities to allow for bulk registration. In some universities it has even lead to individuals from overseas being registered to vote, yet with no right to be so.
Equally concerning is the influence such an exercise can have on local democracy. For example: in west Wales there are allegations that this has happened in a constituency where only the Lib-Dems and Plaid Cymru have a chance of winning, (Lib-Dem majority last time was 219). To register voters with no affiliations to Wales will have an unfair impact on Plaid Cymru and with (broad brush statement) the current appeal of a “young” Nick Clegg to students, an unfair benefit to the Lib Dem vote.
Of course, with many of these students graduating shortly, they will of course be influencing decisions about local representation, in a constituency that will not be their residence in a few weeks time.
It is high time that the Electoral Commission took elections and voter registrations more seriously.