The BBC may have just unwittingly revealed – or even committed – a huge breach of electoral rules. Giving a report via her phone this afternoon, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg seemed to suggest that some unknown party had improper access to postal ballots:
…the postal votes, of course, have already arrived. The parties, they’re not meant to look at them, but they do kind of get a hint. And, on both sides, people are telling me that the postal votes that are in are looking very grim for Labour…
— Caroline (@Carolin31152898) December 11, 2019
Clearly, if true, this is a massive breach of electoral ethics. The electoral commission rules on postal ballots are very, very clear about how they’re handled prior to being counted [their emphasis]:
1.9 Ballot papers will be kept face down throughout a postal vote opening session. Anyone attending an opening session must not attempt to see how individual ballot papers have been marked. It follows therefore that keeping a tally of how ballot papers have been marked is not allowed.
1.10 In addition, anyone attending a postal vote opening must not attempt to look at identifying marks or numbers on ballot papers, disclose how any particular ballot paper has been marked or pass on any such information gained from the session. Anyone found guilty of breaching these requirements can face an unlimited fine, or may be imprisoned for up to six months.
Nobody should have any idea what the results are! Especially not the Political parties themselves!
And they DEFINITELY shouldn’t be using them as a basis for campaigning, which this report most certainly was.
Consider the implications – these votes have not been counted yet, and yet we know someone has had illegal access to them. That impacts the integrity of the vote. If ballots can be seen before they’re counted, they can potentially be changed, destroyed, stolen or ignored.
Now, there is the possibility that it’s not true – that the postal ballots don’t favour the Tories and/or nobody has looked at them.
But that’s no better, as that would mean the BBC are reporting a lie to try and influence the vote.
True or false, the report exposes serious corruption.
Essentially, one of three things has happened:
- Someone has had illegal access to the postal ballots before they’ve been counted and informed the BBC, who reported them – also illegally.
- Someone leaked fake postal vote results, and the BBC reported them without question (again, illegally, or at least unethically).
- The BBC’s political editor invented the whole story, and reported something she knew was a lie.
All three involve the BBC, and/or other unnamed parties, breaking the law in order to influence the election. This should be a massive scandal. One that could potentially call into question the integrity of the whole election.
Will there be a proper investigation?