§ Mr. Hutchinson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why, at Parliamentary and municipal elections, the counterfoil of the ballot paper is marked with the elector's number on the register; and what steps are taken after the election to ensure that the secrecy of the ballot is preserved and that no comparison can be made between the ballot paper and the register.
§ Mr. Ede
The purpose of this procedure, which has been in operation unaltered since the Ballot Act, 1872, was passed is to enable invalid or fraudulent votes to be traced by order of a court in connection with legal proceedings. The law directs that the counterfoils shall be sealed up at the close of the poll and the ballot papers on the completion of the count; that the sealed packets shall be forwarded at a Parliamentary election to the Clerk of the Crown, or at a local government election to the clerk of the local authority; that they shall not be opened except by order of this House or of a court in connection with legal proceedings; and that they shall be destroyed after a year in the case of a Parliamentary election, or six months in the case of a local government election. In this way the secrecy of the ballot is preserved.