LONDON — Social media trolls could be banned from voting under
plans being pushed by Britain’s official election watchdog.
The Commission has suggested that people found to have abused MPs
would be disqualifed from registering to vote, voting in an
election or standing in an election as a candidate.
The Electoral Commission proposals come in response to a
parliamentary review into the abuse and intimidation MPs
faced during the general election.
The response says: “In some instances, electoral law does specify
offences in respect of behaviour that could also amount to an
offence under the general criminal law.
“It may be that similar special electoral consequences could act
as a deterrent to abusive behaviour in relation to candidates and
The organisation said it was time for British laws to be updated
to come into line with the digital era.
“Our strong tradition of free elections are an essential part of
a healthy democracy, and people should be able to stand for
election and campaign without fear of abuse or
intimidation,” Tom Hawthorn, Head of Policy at the Electoral
“However, many offences in electoral law have not been reviewed
or updated since they were first created in the 19th century. We
urge the Government to implement proposals made last year by the
UK’s Law Commissions to make it easier for everyone to understand
and comply with these laws, and for the police and prosecutors to
The evidence also detailed some of the abuse MPs had received,
including candidates being intimidated in their own homes, and
malicious statements being made on the internet.
One candidate told the Commission that they had suffered “covert
and overt bullying, dirty tricks and misogyny.”
by BBC 5 Live, published on Monday, showed that just over
half of the 113 MPs who responded (51%) said the 2017 general
election campaign had been the worst they had ever experienced in
terms of abuse.
87% of MPs in the same study said they had faced some form of
abuse or intimidation during the general election.
One female Labour MP told the BBC: “Does a man coming into my
office threatening to bomb it count?”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said last week that
she had received “really quite frightening” abuse on Twitter.
She said: “When I say abuse it’s not people saying ‘I
disagree with you about nationalising the railways’, it’s people
calling you a ‘n***** bitch’, it’s people threatening acid
attacks, it’s rape, it’s death threats.”