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Kevin's too busy to probe second home voters

Graham Smith | 11:15 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Remember I asked Cornwall Council's Electoral Services team to tell me what percentage of postal votes were cast from second home addresses in the recent Falmouth Town Council by-election? I've now had a reply to my Freedom of Information application and quote the following extracts:

"The Electoral Registration Officer does not carry out the duties on behalf of the local authority but in his own personal capacity....the Freedom of Information Act does not list any person appointed under the Representation of the People Act 1983. It follows that the Electoral Registration Officer, Returning Officer or any other person appointed under the Act are not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Due to the current high level of work in progress and the level of resources required to undertake this exercise, I do not intend to investigate this request at the present time.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Lavery

Electoral Registration Officer
Cornwall Council"

Naturally I'm disappointed - I chose this particular by-election to study because the turnout was low, the percentage of postal votes was high and the winning margin only 20 votes. It's hard to see how the "level of resources required" to investigate could be smaller.

It looks like Cornwall councillor Jeremy Rowe has his work cut out if he is to overcome the bureaucracy and make any progress on this issue, despite getting it on the agenda for the Electoral Review Panel next week. I wish him the best of luck.


  • Comment number 1.

    apathy 1
    democracy 0

  • Comment number 2.

    While Kevin Lavery may not be obliged to provide this information he is not prevented from doing so.

    Kevin Lavery - Public Servant Or Not?

    It is in the best interests of bringing about better democracy in The Duchy Of Cornwall that Kevin Lavery is REQUIRED by all Cornwall Council Councillors to produce this information by Cornwall Council's Electoral Review Panel.

    THAT is in the best Public Interest.

  • Comment number 3.

    Here's an additional alternative route, Mr Smith.

    Perhaps the BBC will be interested in testing the parameters of the meaning of 'democracy' in the UK.

    Perhaps the BBC will provide a team to help you thoroughly analyse the electoral roll in the Falmouth Town Council election to quantify the numerical influence of election outcome skewing non-resident second 'home' voters.

    As things stand, however, it is not illegal for them to vote in a local government election where they own a house but don't live. It should be.

    Perhaps the BBC will help you conduct a similar but more substantial and implication rich investigation into the Camborne & Redruth General Election 2010 outcome and assist you to mount a court challenge to the 60 vote margin result if you find a significant number of second 'home' owners voted illegally both at their 100% Council Tax residence elsewhere and also in the Camborne & Redruth constituency where there are around 1,200 90% Council Tax second 'homes'.

  • Comment number 4.

    You are quite right to point out that it is not illegal to vote in a local government election simply by virtue of property ownership, and that the rules are different for a Parliamentary election. Nick Clegg is now in a position to change those rules. Do you think he will?

  • Comment number 5.

    I have written to Nick Clegg and await his response.

  • Comment number 6.

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


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