Steve Baker has called for more to be done to stamp out the ‘corruptions of elections in Wycombe’ after it was announced in the Queen’s Speech that a proposal will go before parliament which will result in photographic identification being required at polling stations in future elections.
Under the new proposals, voters will have to produce either a driving license, a passport or a form of photographic ID, which the government claim will help tackle election fraud.
A petition has been set up in opposition to the proposal and has been signed over 43,000 times.
In a blog post, the Wycombe MP claimed that the extent of corrupt election practices in Wycombe would ‘shock’ people.
Steve Baker said: “Many say electoral corruption is not a widespread problem or that requiring voter ID is too draconian a measure.
“I completely disagree.
“Most law-abiding citizens in the Wycombe constituency would be shocked if they knew the extent of corrupt election practices and voter fraud which happen each time there is an election.
“I know of people who register to vote at different addresses in the town and then vote in the same election more than once in person and by postal vote.
“I have heard accounts of candidates visiting electors’ homes and demanding postal votes are completed in front of them and then taken away.
“I have testimony of one young woman’s unmarked postal vote being taken off her under duress by a relative and handed to a candidate.
“There are instances of people impersonating others and voting at polling stations in their place.
“It seems the price of a vote in some parts of Wycombe is £10, a free taxi ride or a free pizza. This simply cannot go on.
“When I have had sufficient proof, I have raised these issues with the Police, with Wycombe District Council’s Election Services Team, with the Returning Officer, with the Electoral Commission and with ministers in the Cabinet Office.
“I have also applied for a debate to take place in Parliament on this subject a number of times and I hope still to have it. I am pleased that, at last, sufficient might be done to stop such practices under a majority Conservative government.
The public deserves to have confidence in our democracy. We must stamp out this corruption.
“I appreciate not everyone has a passport or driving licence and I agree with the Government’s proposal these electors should be able to obtain a free document proving their identity.
“If I am re-elected, I will be voting for this legislation proudly when it comes before Parliament. Corrupt election practices must be stamped out.
“I am challenging every candidate in Wycombe to join me in upholding the integrity of the election.”
In response to Mr Baker’s post, a Wycombe District Council spokesperson said: “The Wycombe District Council Returning Officer and her team work with Thames Valley Police and the Electoral Commission to investigate any allegations of fraud.
“They have taken a number of measures to seek to deter fraud and to encourage the reporting of evidence of fraud to the police.
“All elections are conducted in accordance with the law and the detailed rules which regulate the conduct of elections. The Returning Officer will continue to work within the scope of existing law to maintain the integrity of the electoral process and would welcome further measures which support that aim.
“The Electoral Commission have been raising awareness of electoral fraud through Crimestoppers and the Your Vote is Yours Alone campaign. Anyone who feels they may have been the victim of, or have witnessed electoral fraud or misconduct, should report it to Thames Valley Police or to Crimestoppers.”
Steve Baker has asked the Bucks Free Press to clarify that he wrote the blog post whilst still in his position as MP for Wycombe. Following the dissolution of Parliament, he is now running as the candidate to be the next MP of Wycombe.