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In the UK you are allowed to be registered to vote in two constituencies (usually your home address and a student house) but are only allowed to vote in one of these locations.

In my experience, when you go to vote, there is someone sat with a paper copy of all people registered to vote at that polling station. You give your name and address and they cross you off and give you a voting slip. You place your vote and leave.

At this point, the other constituency that you are registered to vote in has no knowledge that you have voted so you could then go to that polling station and once again give your name and address, be crossed off their paper list and vote there.

Presumably this double voting would be spotted when polling stations closed and the lists are compared and you would receive a fine however, the way I understand it, there is no way to identify your vote once you have placed it so they would not be able to remove your vote from either constituencies counts without asking you who you voted for (in which case you could also lie and manipulate the vote even further).

Have I misunderstood something about the voting system in the UK or is this a very real possibility?


Disclaimer: I am not planning on doing this, nor do I condone or encourage anyone else to try it

  • I'm not entirely convinced this is feasible; the only conviction for double voting in 2017 was for one by mail and one in person independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/… – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 17:30
  • Your post/scenario seems to be based on Daily Mail stories dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7641065/… – Fizz Nov 21 '19 at 17:36
  • @Fizz Nope, although I did come across this article while researching before posting my question. It was just a genuine question given that students are constantly being reminded at the moment that they can register to vote in both locations and choose where to vote on the day in order to give their vote the most impact (i.e. the most marginal of the two constituencies) – lioness99a Nov 21 '19 at 17:38
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When you give your name and address to the polling station, they note the serial number of the ballot paper against your name and address and voter ID number, so it is possible to trace every single vote back to the voter who cast the vote.

In the case you suggest, they could simply notice that the same person has voted twice, find the voting slip that matches the record and mark it as void. This could be done by two separate people, one who knows the person's name, address and voter ID, and they could pass the serial number against that name and address to a second person who could find the ballot paper and remove it from the count of votes. That second person would never need to know any personally identifiable information, and therefore the secrecy of the vote is maintained.

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    Thanks, this adds the missing link! I had never noticed that they were also writing down a serial number when they crossed me off the list. Thank you :) – lioness99a Nov 21 '19 at 17:40
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Broadly true. It surprised me that the punishment isn't jail time, but you are entirely correct. The Representation of the People Act Section 61 (2) (a)

A person shall be guilty of an offence if—

(a) he votes as elector otherwise than by proxy either—

(i) more than once in the same constituency at any parliamentary election, or more than once in the same electoral area at any local government election; or

aaaand Section 61 (7):

(7)An offence under this section shall be an illegal practice, but—

aaand Section 169 (defining prosecutions for "illegal practices"):

Prosecutions for illegal practices.

A person guilty of an illegal practice shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale; and] on a prosecution for an illegal practice it shall be sufficient to allege that the person charged was guilty of an illegal practice.

Note that you cannot win an election this way. Yeah ok, they can't identify your vote and so they can't fix what you did, but they can certainly re-run the election, and that would be the outcome of any election where the number of fraudulent votes in a constituency was larger than the winner's majority. The losing candidate would simply take it to judicial review otherwise.

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    It is possible to trace the vote back to the voter, although it is illegal to do so without authorisation from the High Court or Parliament mirror.co.uk/news/politics/… – PandaPops Nov 21 '19 at 16:47

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