Dog owner faces jail for allegedly registering rottweiler to vote
A dog owner whose rottweiler was sent a voting card faces jail after being reported to the police for allegedly providing false information to the electoral roll.
Russell Hoyle, a security guard from Norton in Stockton-on-Tees, denies filling in a form saying Zeus, the family pet, was eligible to vote.
But Stockton council has reported him for alleged electoral fraud, sending him a letter saying he must attend the local police station to be interviewed by detectives.
Hoyle claims there was a mix-up during the last census when an official came to his house asking who lived at the address. The 45-year-old insists that he said: “There is myself and my wife. My son is not old enough to vote.” He then claims to have joked: “We have got Zeus living here as well and he is 63 in dog years.”
Later a polling card for Zeus Hoyle dropped through his letterbox.
The letter from the council warns Hoyle he faces a fine or even prison after an investigation allegedly found he added his pet’s details to the electoral form himself.
But Hoyle maintains his innocence, saying: “I am adamant that I didn’t fill out the form. This whole thing was just a bit of a joke and now it has gone too far. My family are outraged.”
Under the Electoral Administration Act 2006, providing false information to an electoral registration officer carries a maximum prison term of six months.
A spokesman for Stockton council said: “Though we appreciate that registering a dog to vote might seem amusing it is an offence to provide false information on an electoral registration form and we are obliged to refer cases like this to the police.
“It is the householders’ responsibility to make sure that all details provided on the form are accurate and they must also sign a declaration at the bottom of the form confirming that this is the case.”
When Zeus’s polling card first arrived, Hoyle was filmed by the local newspaper http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/attempts-boost-election-turnout-takes-6985647 asking the dog: “What do you think you’re doing, you? You’re not voting for the Conservatives, are you?”
Police take voter fraud very seriously. In 2012, a woman in Aberdeen was arrested and charged by Scottish police after a mannequin was nominated as an independent candidate called Helena Torry in the local elections.
Renee Slater was charged in connection with an alleged offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 but was later cleared due to lack of evidence.
She later told Andrew Neil http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20988319 on the BBC that she had made the nomination as a political statement protesting against funding cuts. She said: “Many of these people have no voice, effectively, and I thought it could be quite useful to bring in something that had no voice to actually speak for the silent majority.” In any case, the dummy had “more charisma” than most politicians, she added.
The Electoral Commission says voter fraud is a growing problem http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06255.pdf%E2%80%8E . Later this year new rules will come in requiring each voter to register themselves, a change to the current system which asks the head of the household to declare who lives at the address.
Individual Voter Registration (IVR) will be brought into force on 10 June in England and Wales and on 19 September in Scotland.
Electors will be registered individually and they will have to provide identification in order to verify their application; this will be their date of birth and National Insurance number.
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