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UK electoral system faces ‘absolute best possible typhoon’ of threats, says watchdog

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The UK faces a “perfect storm” of threats that can put its complete electoral system at risk, the top of the elections watchdog has warned.

Russian meddling on social media and native council cuts had been simply two of the factors threatening the credibility of the system, Sir John Holmes discussed.

He prompt BBC Radio four’s Today programme Britain’s electoral regulations had been a “mess” and had to be up to the moment.

He will set out the stairs he says need to be taken in a speech later.

The watchdog has offered an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in ultimate 12 months’s Brexit referendum and the entire election.

“It would be naive to assume that what we know happened in the US and France around their elections did not and could not happen here,” he prompt Today.

“And there was proof coming from the us inquiry that some of that process used to be going down.

“What we’ve got achieved is requested firms like Twitter, Google and Facebook to let us know what used to be going down right here in the similar means they did in america.”

Bigger fines

In the us, each the House and Senate intelligence committees are having a look into allegations of Russian interference throughout the 2016 presidential election – one thing the Kremlin strongly denies.

Congress has offered pictures of social media posts presupposed to be Russian propaganda.

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Technology companies show alleged examples of Russian-backed posts to US senators

Sir John, a former diplomat who has served in Moscow, discussed it used to be “impossible” for the Electoral Commission to “regulate or prevent what Russia is doing”.

But he needs new regulations requiring political campaigners to spot themselves to offer voters “transparency about who is trying to influence them, who is paying for it”.

He additionally needs to seem symbol IDs offered at polling cubicles, following allegations of voter fraud in Tower Hamlets, in east London, and different spaces.

Critics say the plan discriminates against other people on low earning who don’t have symbol IDs.

But Sir John discussed they may well be given free symbol ID playing taking part in playing cards, as used to be already going down in Northern Ireland, the place the brand new system is up and working.

He dominated out a transfer to on-line balloting, in consequence of of considerations about hacking – alternatively he needs it to be made more straightforward to test on-line whether or not or now not or now not you might be registered to vote.

He additionally needs upper fines for political events and promoting and advertising advertising marketing campaign teams that attempt to get spherical spending limits.

‘Troll factories’

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Sir John Holmes is a former diplomat and UN loyal

The watchdog has again and again complained that it lacks the enamel to take on abuses of the system, with Sir John caution some smartly resourced events would in all probability merely see fines as “a cost of doing business” after the Conservatives had been fined £70,000 for breaking the principles.

He has additionally warned that cuts to native government would in all probability merely undermine the right kind working of elections throughout the UK.

June’s common election have been most often smartly run, he discussed, alternatively “returning officers and electoral administrators face reduced resources and a growing number of skilled professionals are leaving local authority elections teams”.

Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”, even if Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson prompt MPs ultimate month he had now not noticed any proof of Russian interference throughout the Brexit vote or common election.

Researchers on the University of Edinburgh came upon greater than 400 fake Twitter accounts making an attempt to influence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts suspended via approach of Twitter in the us.

The accounts had been believed to had been run from the Kremlin-linked Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The Commons Culture Select Committee is wearing out a separate inquiry into “fake news”, and Britain’s intelligence and coverage watchdog is going by way of calls to analyze whether or not or now not or now not Russian “troll factories” interfered in UK politics.

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