We used to live in a democracy, but then we privatised postal voting

According to the UK Election Statistics: 1918-2019: A Century of Elections by the House of Commons, up to the year 2005, the percentage of postal votes was relatively low, never exceeding 5%:

  Number of postal ballot papers issuedCovering envelopes returned before close of pollPostal votes Numberincluded in count % of all postal ballot papers issuedPostal votes as % of total

The percentage of postal votes in UK general elections didn’t increase much until 2002, when the noble Baron Lilley, also known as The Right Honourable Lord Lilley or Tory MP Peter Lilley became a senior non-executive director of Idox Group, the private company contracted by the British government to process postal votes in the UK.

After Peter Lilley became the senior non-executive director of Idox Group, the postal votes enjoyed a steady increase from:

– 5.0% in 2001 to 12.7% in 2005;

– 12.7% in 2005 to 18.8% in 2010; and

– 18.8% in 2010 to 20.7% in 2015.

Idox Group was also contracted by the British government to manage the postal votes received and counted at the EU referendum.

According to the BBC, 33,551,983 British voters voted at the EU referendum.

According to the UK’s Independent Fact-Checking Charity – Full Fact, out of 8.5 million postal ballots issued during the EU referendum, only 86% were counted in the final vote, which means that out of the total 33,551,983 votes, around 7,310,000 were postal votes.


In terms of percentage, out of the total votes counted at the EU referendum, 21.79% were postal votes.

Coincidentally, Peter Lilley, the senior non-executive director of Idox Group was also supportive of the Eurosceptic pressure group Leave Means Leave.

Peter Lilley, the senior non-executive director of Idox Group is also a member of the European Research Group.


Surely this is a classic case of the conflict of interest, whereby a prominent Brexiter and ERG member was a senior non-executive director of Idox Group, the company that was in charge of processing almost 1/5 of the total votes counted at the EU referendum.

How could the British government allow a company with a senior non-executive director political who backed Brexit in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum to be in charge of verifying postal votes at the EU referendum?

The postal votes are neither issued nor verified by the government or the electoral commission.

Postal votes are issued and verified by private companies, such as Idox Group. Over the past years, Idox Group has been entrusted with managing postal votes in the UK, including the Independence Referendum in Scotland, the EU Referendum and general elections to issue ballot papers to British voters and verify them before issuing them to the Electoral Commission.

Postal voting agents representing political candidates are entitled to be present at the opening session of postal votes to supervise the verification process of the postal votes received.

However, postal voting agents representing political candidates are entitled to verify only the postal votes that are presented to them by Idox Group and they can’t verify whether they are the authentic ones received by British voters.

According to David Hencke, Idox Group have broken the law because they bypassed the verification procedures in the counting of postal votes in the 2015 General Election:

“Another acquired subsidiary of Idox, Opt2Vote, was found to have broken the law by ignoring legal verification procedures in the counting of postal votes in the 2015 General Election following a complaint by a count observer. An analysis by the elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, upheld the complaint stating that postal voting counts in Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife, Dundee, Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Moray, Scottish Borders, Angus and Clackmannanshire did not comply with the law.”

However, this didn’t stop Boris Johnson’s government to contract Idox Group to manage postal voting in the 2019 General Election.

According to Byline Times, Boris Johnson’s Government breached EU rules stipulating that any construction and works tender above £663,450 should be put out to competition law by giving a lucrative contract to Idox Group without competitive tendering to revamp the management of the electoral register in extraordinary circumstances for the 2019 General Election.

It looks like the Cabinet Office’s decision to break the law was a good decision for the Conservative party because Dominic Raab suggested that Tories are doing well on the postal votes:

This was also confirmed by the BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who stated that postal votes are looking pretty grim for Labour:

Unfortunately, this is how democracy works in the UK, whereby the decisive margins in the EU referendum and general elections are being managed by private companies instead of the Electoral Commission.

The mission of every private company is to satisfy their clients, and with Peter Lilley as a senior non-executive director, Idox Group did an outstanding job in delivering a satisfying electoral result for their client – the Conservative Party.


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4 thoughts on “We used to live in a democracy, but then we privatised postal voting

  1. The reason the number of postal votes jumped in the 2005 GE was that legislation had been passed whereby it was no longer necessary to provide a reason for requesting one. It is hardly surprising that postal voting on demand should result in a large increase in their use. How could you not know this?


  2. And Brits in EU (around 800,000) will confirm that very many ballots were not received or received too late to return.


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