YOUNG VOICES

Green Party Denies Employing 'Highly Inappropriate' Tactics By Pre-Filling Out Proxy Forms

22/04/2015 17:23 BST | Updated 24/04/2015 11:59 BST
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The Greens have denied employing "highly inappropriate" tactics after the party was accused of giving out proxy voting forms to students, which had already been filled in with the details of Green supporters.

Proxy voting is mainly used by UK expatriates who have been on the electoral register at some point in the past 15 years. Someone who is elected to act as a proxy can only do so for two people that they are not directly related to. However, they can be a proxy for any number of their relatives.

According to Brighton and Hove Labour candidates, forms were offered by the Students for Caroline campaign last Friday, while the group had also set up a stall on campus at Sussex University.

A spokeswoman for Students for Caroline said proxy voting was a good solution for those who can’t vote in person or by post.

"Many students are extremely keen to make sure their voice is counted on May 7th, and so some, who know they won’t be able to vote in person or by post because of holiday and postal vote timings, are asking instead for a proxy vote.

“Ideally, we hope as many students as possible will be able to vote in person or by post. But where that just won’t be an option for them, proxy voting is a well-recognised solution they’re able to choose if they’d like.

“It’s obviously all led by them – we just make them aware of all the options available, which I think most people would agree is the right thing to do, and we’ve had students approach us directly to request a proxy vote themselves."

Adam McGibbon, target constituencies campaign manager for the Green Party, told HuffPost UK the party has been "adhering completely" to the electoral commission's code of practice.

"We have been vindicated by the electoral commission. We have clarified the situation today with [their] head of policy, who is completely satisfied that we are acting within the code of conduct for campaigners."

But Dominik Sokalski, President of the University of Sussex Liberal Democrats Society, told HuffPost UK: "The Greens should perhaps think carefully about whether their methods of campaigning are appropriate, fair and honest."

"If the Green Party have not already responded to the Electoral Commission, I urge them to do so, so the Commission can investigate whether or not the Greens broke the electoral Code of Conduct."

caroline lucas

Caroline Lucas speaks at a political event

The Electoral Commission told HuffPost UK: "Our non-statutory code of conduct says voters should not be encouraged to appoint a campaigner as a proxy to minimise the risk of suspicions that campaigners are placing undue pressure on voters. We have been in contact with the Green Party and they have confirmed that they are dealing with applications to appoint proxies in line with the code of conduct."

Tracey Hill, a Labour candidate for the Hollingdean and Stanmer ward, told Brighton and Hove News that the practice was highly inappropriate: “Students are being asked to give their votes to someone they don’t know and have never met. That doesn’t sound right.

"What if the student changes their mind later? They wouldn’t be able to contact their proxy to let them know.”