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Second home voters - don't hold your breath

Graham Smith | 19:57 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011

My thanks to St Ives MP Andrew George for letting me see this letter from Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper, which appears to be the government's reply to the "important and urgent" letter sent by Cornwall Council, eventually, in November. "I will give this matter further consideration," says Mr Harper. What odds of reform before the 2015 general election?


  • Comment number 1.

    Mr Harper, Minister for Political & Constitutional Reform is using misleading and inaccurate language in order to understate the problem.
    For 'dual registration' substitute 'multiple registrations' on 'multiple electoral rolls' in 'multiple constituencies' across the UK.
    Could the political benefits of multiple property owner manipulated and gerrymandered election results in both local government and UK general elections through the insidious, extensive and substantial vote distorting power available to the multiple property owning elite minority (including MPs) have something to do with it?
    Mr Harper doesn't seem too keen on genuine 'Political & Constitutional Reform'.
    It looks like you have much more work to do on this ongoing scandal up ahead, Mr Smith.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Mr Harper, Minister for Political & Constitutional Reform is using misleading and inaccurate language in order to understate the problem.
    For 'dual registration' substitute 'multiple registrations' on 'multiple electoral rolls' in 'multiple constituencies' across the UK."

    Where,(in the above statement by Mark Harper), do the words "dual registration" appear?

  • Comment number 5.

    Second paragraph of the part of the document copied here above for our perusal by Mr Smith, Slimslad.

  • Comment number 6.

    My apologies.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    What nonsense, another conspiracy theory.

    Do you really in your wildest dreams believe there is an organised campaign by the "multiple property owning elite minority" including MP's no less, to gerrymander our elections?

    Please tell us more!! :-)

    Ps. Did this campaign fail in the areas of Cornwall where three Lib Dem MP's were elected? North Cornwall has a fair share of second home owners, and you don't get more elite than Rock, so how come they didn't get rid of Dan?

    But please tell us more, we're fascinated.

  • Comment number 10.

    NOT a conspiracy theory, Dtr.
    That hoary old chestnut is often the resort of those on the losing side of an argument.
    Many multiple property owners are registered to vote in more than one constituency.
    Exactly how many is not known because Election Register and Election Returning Officers do not have the means, methods or resources to tell us, let alone detect the extent of incorrect/ineligible/illegal votes being cast by multiple property owners.
    Cornwall Council is the first authority in the UK to have a stab at it. At the moment around 800 non-resident multiple property owning registrants have been booted off Cornwall's electoral rolls for 'inappropriate' registration - with more to follow. Non-resident multiple property electoral roll registrants are indeed often concentrated in certain areas. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are around 1,200 non-resident owned houses in the Camborne & Redruth Parliamentary constituency with a potential (based on typical allocation) of 1,200 x 1.8 voters = 2,160. How many of those are actually registered to vote in Cornwall is not known. However, under current electoral law they would be able to 'flip' their constituency to vote in that constituency instead of Hampstead, Billericay or wherever their primary residence is.Last year the winning margin in the General Election in Camborne & Redruth was 60.
    During the recent Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill deliberations in the House of Commons and House of Lords NO MPs or Lords declared a multiple property ownership interest in a Bill whose key elements, the AV v FPTP referendum and Constituency Boundary populations and redrawing, are both intimately dependent on how eligible voters are defined, how they are validated and counted, the contexts within which they are able to vote and how multiple registrations and the methods of preventing multiple voting are to be managed.

    PS As far as your 'Ps' goes, clearly the extent to which these non-resident multiple property owners determine election outcomes is also modified by the number, quality and familiarity of candidates on offer and the quality of campaigns they conduct. However, the fact remains that, in current circumstances, people who don't live in Cornwall & Scilly exert influence on election outcomes in Cornwall & Scilly. The full extent is not yet known. It will become clearer though. What Mark Harper MP, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform should do to eliminate these unfair anomalies that undermine the concept of one person-one vote democracy is to do exactly what Mr Lavery has suggested - require them to vote in all elections only in the constituency of their main residence. Why not.

  • Comment number 11.

    Readers of Mr Smith's blog - including serious, reputable and respected BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4 and other politically orientated colleagues such as Jeremy Paxman, James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark, Gavin Esler, Eddie Mair, George Alagiah, Nick Robinson, Sarah Montague, Emily Maitlis, James Landale,Carolyn Quinn, Laura Kuenssberg, Norman Smith, John Pienaar, Jo Coburn, Carole Walker, Ed Stourton, Ben Wright, Gary O'Donoghue, Mike Sergeant, Tim Iredale, Ross Hawkins, Vicky Young, Iain Watson, Colette McBeth, Rajini Vaidyanathan, John Humphrys, Peter Hunt, Andrew Marr, Julian Worricker, Robin Lustig, Sean Curran, Adam Fleming, Robin Chrystal, Louise Stuart, Brian Taylor, Betsan Powys, Mark Devenport (who might all wish to draw on Mr Smith's impressive, sustained and thorough work when Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg and Coalition Colleagues come knocking to sell their BOGUS REFERENDUM and BOGUS CONSTITUENCIES) - interested in why the Liberal Democrat Conservative Coalition Parliamentary Voting System And Constituencies Bill AV v FPTP Referendum proposed for May 2011 and the redrawing of UK constituency boundaries proposed during the next 4 years and every 5 years thereafter will both, if attempted, be bogus and dishonest exercises based on false data, deficient Electoral Law, deficient Electoral Registration and Election Returning Officer powers of scrutiny, electoral roll verification and inability to sign off ALL elections and referendums truthfully and transparently as genuinely 'free and fair' 'one person-one vote' may be interested to explore Mr Smith's other work on this important subject which has such significant bearing on the conduct and outcomes of elections across the UK:

  • Comment number 12.

    To be fair, wasn't the Cambourne and Redruth constituency "brand new" in 2010? Therefore, I don't think this makes a good example of our "unfair" system.

  • Comment number 13.

    It's Camborne, Slimslad.
    The actual margin (mis-typed above) was 66.

    The problem of multiple electoral roll registration and unscreened multiple voting in multiple constituencies by multiple property owners is endemic across the UK.
    As Cornwall & Scilly CERO Kevin Lavery has confirmed in his letter to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, CEROs across the UK are not currently properly equipped to sign off any election or referendum as genuinely and verifiably 'true, free and fair' with any confidence or integrity whatsoever.
    Not only does multiple voting in multiple constituencies by multiple property owners impact on election (and this proposed bogus referendum should it actually take place) results across the UK in places where the anti-social affluent misappropriate residential housing for non-residential purposes, multiple constituency voting also affects results wherever these people actually live.

  • Comment number 14.

    Some some people (unknown) may or may not have been registered inappropriately, and these votes may or may not have voted, and these votes may or may not have influenced the election in some way.

    Is that about it?

    So what we have here is inappropriate voter registrations, which can include people who have moved house, people who have not completed the registration fully, people disqualified from voting due to incarceration, people not entitled to vote for a vast number of reasons.

    So it's no big deal and happens in most constituencies. In Ulster one in ten voters were struck off the register.

    By tey way, just because someone was registered at a particlar address, that does not mena they voted or intended to vote.

    But the crux of the matter is, even if all these people had voted, and even if they had voted and affected the election, would there not need to be some collusion involved for it to matter in any way?

  • Comment number 15.

    My apologies, Camborne, of course. But it still does not answer the question of Camborne and Redruth being the newly "made" 6th Constituency in 2010 and the use of this constituency as an "example" of any possible "multiple votes" strategy?

  • Comment number 16.

    Camborne & Redruth was used to simply illustrate the point, Slimslad, as it is a clear and recent case where concern about the authenticity of the result is justified.
    The fact is, Dtr, that multiple property owners have, for decades, indeed and in fact been organised and orchestrated by political parties (some distinctly more than others!), particularly to 'flip' their votes to marginal seats in general elections in the hope and intent of changing the electoral outcomes in favour of a particular party.
    Dtr appears to, somewhat obssessivley, seek to diminish the issue.
    Surely we all want elections/referendums that can be properly and truthfully scrutinised by CEROs and inappropriate/mistaken/illegal votes be readily weeded out in advance of the announcement of any result so we can all have faith that the outcomes reflect the genuine one person-one vote will of the people.

    Perhaps it's time to call in the UN Election Monitors.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dtr appears obsessionally fixated on incorrectly imagining and alleging the evident deficiencies in UK Electoral Law, Electoral Registers and CERO powers in the UK is a minority interest.

    For readers of Mr Smith's blog who may be more interested in the facts - in addition to Mr Smith's excellent and tenacious investigations available via , serious concern about democratic franchise inequalities of voting power and influence and grossly distorted and inaccurate multiple property ownership skewed electoral registers across the UK is felt by many and extends across the political spectrum.
    Andrew George MP - Liberal Democrat:
    'Surely it must be decided where people's primary residence is, rather than where they occasionally reside. People with second homes-and third homes, and fourth homes-have a significant advantage over all other voters, in that they can choose where to deploy their vote most effectively.'
    Sarah Newton MP - Conservative:
    'What recent representations and discussions has the Electoral Commission had with the Deputy Prime Minister regarding the real problems associated with second home(sic) voter registration?'
    Lord Teverson - Liberal Democrat:
    'Will the Minister make sure that that is clarified for returning officers, and will the Government take steps to ensure that people are able to vote in national elections only where their main residence is located?'
    Lord Tyler - Liberal Democrat:
    'My Lords, returning to second homes(sic), I wonder whether, since the Government have so rightly emphasised the importance of getting equity between the value of votes, they should address this issue of giving some people two votes, while everyone else, including those of us who are allowed to vote in whichever elections, have only one.'
    Lord Campbell-Savours - Labour:
    'Does not the Government's decision to set their boundaries on the basis of the December 2010 register, which includes this flawed material on second homes(sic) and the registration of voters, further confirm how the data that are being used for boundary setting are just unacceptable and should not be used?'

    So. There you have it.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm not imaging anything AC. I'm trying to figure out what has you so incensed.

    You are like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills here.

    You have no evidence to back up your claims that second home owners are affecting our elections, in fact you have little evidence of anything at all.

    Your links provide no concrete facts, just more speculation, and your incomprehensible verbiage just muddies the water further.

    You are to be encouraged in this.

  • Comment number 19.

    You appear to be the Quixote in this matter Dtr.
    Progress will be made.
    The facts will emerge in due course and then we will be able to see the extent of electoral distortion arising from multiple property owner enhanced franchise privilege.
    Until then, we discuss the principles at stake and press for the facts to be known.
    It is the principle of equality of democratic franchise and the absence of visibility of the facts that are at issue.
    Whether the words above are considered 'verbiage' or not will, of course, depend on the mental capacity and capability of the reader- was it ever thus.
    We all want better democracy don't we, Dtr. Why resist progress towards greater fairness and equality. It's a mystery why you so doggedly appear to wish to.

  • Comment number 20.

    Perhaps you will explain what motivates you to make these idle vacuous comments, Dtr. If you think others are truly wasting their time with no prospect of consequences the normal natural reaction would be to let them just get on with it. Yet back you come like a yo-yo, offering nothing but negative resistance to the prospect of possible improvements in how our democracy works. Pourquoi? C'est un mystère.

  • Comment number 21.

    Here in remote rural Western Australia we have a serious problem because multiple home ownership allows those who do not live here to determine the character, shape and culture of our shire. We are an agricultural region which is being driven along a "streetscape" and "latte strip" direction by the city dwelling holiday home owners.
    More dangerous is the fact that homes are being built in inappropriate locations and then our local volunteer bush fire brigades are expected to turn out and fight fires. We clear graze around our homes for safety, the holiday homes are nestled in the bush and create a fire hazard for all of us.
    We no longer have an abattoir, or saleyards, and much other necessary infrastructure because the chattering classes don't want anything to disturb their rural idyll.

  • Comment number 22.

    Perhaps you will explain what motivates you to make these obsessive fact free comments AC, and to insult anyone with a different view. If you think others are truly influencing your local election the normal natural reaction would be to do something about it, yet all you do is spam the net. Back you come like a yo-yo, offering nothing but spam and biased links with the prospect of no possible improvements in how our democracy works. You are your cause's worse enemy. My job is to encourage you in this.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hardly, Dtr. This is a very serious matter and your shallow and trite insertions are just that (Don't worry - necessary improvements are on their way - they just won't be in place by early May 2011).
    Here are some facts for you as you appear to be lacking them as well as any understanding of the gravity of the situation.
    In November 2010, the Chief Executive of Cornwall Council wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Clegg advising that he finds himself unable, as Chief Electoral Registration and Election Returning Officer for Cornwall & Scilly, to have confidence in running elections in Cornwall & Scilly with integrity and seeking advice.
    Here are extracts from what he wrote in his letter and briefing notes:
    'Dear Mr Clegg
    As Electoral Registration Officer for Cornwall I want to bring an important and urgent issue to your attention which is of concern to all Cornwall Councillors and which has been brought to a head during this year’s Annual Canvass.
    I have set out in detail on the attached briefing note the confusing law and guidance on the registration of voters who own a second (sic) home (sic). This, of course, is a particularly acute problem in Cornwall that affects all electoral areas.
    The lack of clarity means that there may be some persons registered to vote who are not entitled to...
    As Electoral Registration Officer I am looking for absolute certainty in this matter and the Briefing Note puts forward a possible solution which I hope you will consider seriously.'
    Briefing note extracts:
    '...The current legal provisions relating to voter registration and second homes are confusing for those that are responsible for overseeing electoral registration, those responsible for implementing it and, most importantly the electorate. It should be possible to amend the law to introduce greater clarity and certainty...'
    Since that was written and Mr Harper replied some 3 months later just as the fundamentally related PVS&C Bill proposing a BOGUS REFERENDUM and BOGUS CONSTITUENCY BOUNDARIES was being whipped through both houses of parliament, around 800 BOGUS ELECTORAL ROLL ENTRIES on the electoral rolls of Cornwall & Scilly have been identified, disqualified and eliminated with more to come.
    This anti-democratic multiple property owner multiple property based privileged additional franchise voting opportunity threatens and undermines fair election outcomes and its anti-democratic ramifications are endemic throughout the UK - BANANA REPUBLIC UK.
    As Mr Harper's letter above indicates - 'I will give this further consideration' -the LibDemCon Coalition's approach to solving the problem and bringing true one person-one vote democracy to the UK is too leisurely to ensure the democratic integrity of the AV v FPTP proposed for May 2011.
    The Referendum, were it to take place, would therefore be and could only be a BOGUS REFERENDUM.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Of course it is also worth considering the fact that if second home owners have legitimately only register to vote in the place where they own their second home,then their votes are just that, legitimate.

    Makes sense actually. If their main residence is in a secure constituency for the party they support, and their vote will not make a great difference. Then surely it would be more sense to register it in the second home area, where it may indeed swing things to the party of your choice.

    And that would be totally legal.

  • Comment number 26.

    You are right, Dtr - currently legal…and unfair and corrupt.
    The minority multiple propertied manipulating/distorting election/referendum outcomes in constituencies where they don't actually live and to the democratic deficit of people who do actually live in such constituencies by exploiting property based electoral registers to gerrymander political outcomes, frequently orchestrated by political party membership machinery.
    Of course if you had properly read and digested what is written above you would realise you are merely restating what has already been written.
    You may wish to read again what our MPs and Lords have to say on the subject in Hansard.
    To sum up:


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