Sunday 6 May 2018

Picking bones

Ellie Reeves MP

Finally on today's The World This Weekend came a section with this introduction by Mark Mardell:
The bones of the English local election results have been picked clean by now but here's one under-reported result: Nearly 4,000 people who wanted to vote were stopped from doing so, according to the Electoral Reform Society.
Quite how 'under-reported' it was I'm not sure because I've read lots of people on sites like this objecting to how the BBC reported this story, particularly for presenting the Electoral Reform Society as if it were an official body rather than a campaign group and for seeming to take the ERS's "4,000 people" figure on trust.

In fact, that "4,000 people" figure from the ERS has been widely disputed with many saying that their figure was based on "extrapolations" from "observations" with no statistical validity and that two councils involved put their figures at fewer than 100.

If that's the case, why did Mark Mardell take the ERS's figure at face value and not probe it?

He interviewed Ellie Reeves, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, who opposes the ID scheme. She downplayed the issue of voter fraud and Mark didn't challenge her for doing so. Instead, he asked her, given what she says she's seen, if the Government should expand the scheme (she said no) and what she thinks is behind the government's thinking (she wasn't complimentary). He ended by saying they'd asked the government to respond but they'd declined. 


UPDATE: Official figures from two of the five pilot areas (Gosport and Swindon) are showing that very few people were actually turned away. It was 44 people at one, 60 people at the other. As Rob Ford of Manchester University says, "These official figures on voters turned away due to ID requirements seem hard to square with the far larger 4,000 estimate that was circulating far and wide on Twitter on Friday". It looks as if the claims of "fake news" might be correct.

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