Two votes for students

first_imgMany students have been able to cast two votes in Thursday’s national referendum on the Alternative Vote electoral system, having received multiple polling cards. While students received a poll card at their home address, many were also given an additional card, entitling them to vote again in Oxford. While only one vote may be cast in national elections, a student is allowed to vote for local councillors both at home and at university. However, there were no local government elections in Oxford yesterday.If a significant number of students who received two cards voted twice, this could amount to hundreds of fraudulent votes.Some students that Cherwell spoke to, who had already made their choice by postal vote, were able to vote again in Oxford.One first year stated, “I’ve already voted by post at home, though I could easily vote again on Thursday if I wasn’t so scared of getting fined”.Workers manning the poll booths at Wesley Memorial Hall in the city centre, admitted that it was impossible to tell if a student had already voted at home, though they pointed out posters that warned of imprisonment or fines for those caught committing electoral fraud.Jeremy Thomas, Counting Officer for Oxford, stated, “Students are entitled to be registered at both their home address and their place of study. “However, no elector is entitled to vote twice in this referendum. Any elector who does so commits a serious criminal offence.“We have arrangements in place with Thames Valley Police for them to investigate all such allegations and I would encourage anybody who thinks an offence may have been committed to come forward with information.”Nathan Jones, a History and Politics student, commented, “In a referendum on the future of a fairer voting system and how best to select our elected representatives, it is a damaging loophole that allows university students to potentially vote both in their home constituencies as well as in Oxford”.Cherwell exposed a similar story during last year’s General Election when it was reported that many students were able to vote twice. Yet no changes to combat the possibility of fraud seem to have been made.Students also reported that they were able to vote without their poll card or being asked for proof of identity.One commented, “I could have committed identity fraud without anyone knowing. Who knows if it is actually widespread?”Many international students were also able to vote in today’s referendum. The Electoral Commission told Cherwell that, “Voting cards will be sent to anyone appearing on the electoral register.”Those entitled to vote in all elections must be a “UK, Republic of Ireland, or qualifying Commonwealth citizen. Qualifying Commonwealth citizens are those who have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or do not require such leave.” However, some students from the Commonwealth, which includes Malaysia, Pakistan and Kenya, said that they had been unsure about their entitlement to vote.One student commented, “At the polling station I said that I wasn’t a British citizen, and they said that as long as I was registered to vote I could.”last_img read more