Conservatives urge second home owners to register to vote here too

The letter that Ian Ward sent out from the Isle of Wight Conservative Association encouraging second home owners to register to vote on the Island. It’s causing quite a stir.

Polling station

A letter sent out by the Chairman of the Isle of Wight Conservative Association, Cllr Ian Ward, in connection with the 2017 council election has drawn strong criticism from the public and opposition leaders.

The letter – sent to those registered for postal votes on the Isle of Wight – encourages voters who have two homes to vote both on the Island and mainland – without stating the limited conditions that would apply.

The letter reads (see below in full):

If you have a home on the mainland you are entitled to a vote in both your mainland local election as well as here on the Island

Rules for second home owners
The Electoral Commission rules state that if you own two homes you can vote in both local areas, but only if you spend an equal amount of time in them, as agreed by the local Electoral Registration Officer.

They state:

Whether or not you reside at an address is not defined in law. Residence is understood to mean a “considerable degree of permanence”.

This means a person with two homes who spends the same amount of time in each can legally register at both addresses.

It is unlikely that merely owning a second home that is used for recreation would be enough to qualify you to register to vote in that area. Simply paying council tax on a second home would also not be enough.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission told OnTheWight this morning,

“It is for the local Electoral Registration Officer to decide in the light of the relevant circumstances, whether a person may be said to be resident at a particular address.

“It is legal to vote in elections for two different local councils.”

As to whether Ian Ward has broken any rules – as has been suggested – we’re still awaiting clarification from the Electoral Commission.

We’ve written to Cllr Ward about this, but haven’t received answer to the four questions we asked (we did get an email, but it was blank). He has been able to find time to Tweet out, “Its Quiz Time Again Come along and bring your team Our Quiz is at the normal time of 8pm Roger will be our Quiz… ” in the meantime.

Lowthion: “Vague and inaccurate interpretation of electoral law”
According to Leader of the Isle of Wight Green party, Vix Lowthion, in 2010 4.75% of Island homes were second homes.

She told OnTheWight, this morning,

“The electoral commission guidelines are clear. You can only register to vote in your local area if you reside at an address in that area; specifically a ‘considerable degree of permanence’ or spending ‘the same amount of time’ at both addresses.

“As I walk the streets of towns and villages in support of excellent Green candidates, I see plenty of empty second homes where I challenge the Island Conservatives to prove the owners are ‘permanent’ residents.

“This letter smacks of desperation and is another example of the Conservative Party seemingly ignoring electoral guidelines in order to win elections.

“I demand that Ian Ward and the Island Conservatives publicly clarify their position, and make a statement to correct their vague and inaccurate interpretation of electoral law.”

Blackmore: “Cynical move … discredits politics”
Stewart Blackmore, Vice Chair of the Isle of Wight Labour Party told OnTheWight,

“Island Labour decries this cynical move which further discredits politics. The Tory Party has shown itself to be unprincipled on the Island, even to the extent of adopting a former Ukip candidate to stand under the Tory banner.

“This is an outrageous tactic. The only people who should vote for candidates in the Isle of Wight council elections are those who live on the Island. The idea that people who live on the mainland, but who are wealthy enough to own a second home on the Island, should be encouraged to vote for candidates who will make decisions for those who do live here, is disgraceful. The fact that the Conservatives have seen fit to urge them to do so is beneath contempt.

“This is a throwback to the days when the votes of the wealthy few outweighed the votes of ordinary people. It perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that the Tory Party should seek to corrupt the democratic process. But it is still shocking to see the Tories openly taking advantage of legal loopholes to try to gerrymander the election, by appealing to wealthy people from outside the Island to use an undemocratic vote.

“Island Labour demand that the Tories immediately apologise for this insult to Islanders, and withdraw their invitation to wealthy non-Islanders to interfere in our election.

“Island Labour are quite clear: the ONLY people who should be voting for Isle of Wight councillors are people who actually live on the Isle of Wight.”

The letter
Conservative Association Letter

Image: Paul Walker under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 11th April, 2017 11:52am



Filed under: Election, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

27 Comments on "Conservatives urge second home owners to register to vote here too"

newest oldest most voted

Was Andrew Turner once confused about which one was his main residence and which wasn’t? As I recall he couldn’t decide if his main home was in Newport or Newport.


Newport or London.

I got one of these. I was ever so pleased as I’d only a few minutes previously ran out of kitchen paper so I used the letter to clear up cat sick. Is it a coincidence that the IWCP website started experiencing some technical difficulties that have disabled it’s comments functionality as soon as this story was published? Whatever, this is a disgrace and the usually circumspect… Read more »
Steve Goodman

Embarrassment, and breaking the rules, seems to bother them less and less; choosing to cheat with excess election spending got them maximum fines and continuing police investigations as well as their rigged results. They’ve still got money while imposing austerity on others, and they’re still determined to buy the votes they need.


I think that you will find the IWCP has a new website, available to all to comment as they choose as you can do here 1

I’m very proud Island Labour broke this story last night, and alerted news outlets. It is a disgrace that the Tories think it’s reasonable to invite wealthy mainlanders to vote for a Conservative candidate in the Isle of Wight elections – even when they don’t actually live here. The Isle of Wight is a proud democracy, not some 18th Century colony. There is surely no place in… Read more »

I thought it was Susan H who ‘broke the story’ by posting her letter to the Unite the IW’ Facebook page – not the Labour Party

Steve Goodman

They also seem not to see anything wrong with choosing councillors well-known for their long absences from the Island, their constituents, and important briefings and meetings; nor with councillors continually demonstrating bad behaviour and bringing disrepute to them and the Island.


Yet another reason not to vote for the conservatives. They are running scared because they know they won’t get back in. If this election is not going to be a fair one don’t bother. Only people who live on the island for the majority of the year over 90% of the time should be allowed to vote in local elections.

Philip Hawkins

So if I take a one month holiday, you’d bar me?

What about those who commute to work on the North Island? I used to go on Tuesday morning and return Thursday night – not every week, but enough to break your 90% barrier . . .

John Glazebrook

Tories being investigated for a election funding, now Island Tories are chipping in for second home owners to flout the Electoral Commission rules. In playing up to the wealthy they are ignoring hard working people and the rest of society. It’s great Island Labour has highlighted this. They have my vote.

The Ancient Matelot

How do you know that all second-home owners vote Tory? Or are you assuming that wealth (or a lack of it) determines which party you vote for?

Steve Goodman

Those tories obviously believe it’s worth gambling on, and (like the second home owners they’re trying to appeal to?), they can afford to do more than the less well off, again demonstrating the lack of a level playing field for our rigged less than democratic games.

Vix Lowthion

My Mum has a second home here on the island, and she has never voted Conservative!
It’s unfair to state that all second home owners are wealthy. The real issue here isn’t one of wealth, it’s one of fairness and democracy and localism. It’s not a Labour issue – it’s an island issue.

Geoff Lumley

I’ll tell the many people in my ward that are struggling to pay private sector rents for sub-standard accommodation that some second-home owners aren’t wealthy. Get real, please.

Yet again the Conservatives demonstrate where they think their core vote lies. It’s staggering that IW Tory HQ (or was it a little further afield?) can be so brazenly cynical. Or is it…? What does it cost to send a letter to every home on the Island by Royal Mail? And how does that stack up against the limit on electoral expenses of about 6p per voter?
Geoff Lumley
My ward has almost 400 postal voters. My loyal team delivered by hand letters to all 400 of them at the weekend as we cannot afford the postage. If there are the same numbers in each ward that is 400 x 40 x 60p postage = £12,000. Or £240 per ward. The expenses limit per ward is well above that, but what is clear: With their glossy,… Read more »
deja vu

Now, now, don’t assume the Tories are trying to buy the election with glossy colour leaflets.

Priest and Gilbey are doing exactly the same – and they have refused to say which party they are affiliated with.

The Ancient Matelot

It seems to me that allowing people with two homes to vote in two different areas is open to abuse. However, whatever the rights or wrongs, surely it is a bit much for the people of the other parties to assume that everyone who has a second home here is going to vote Tory. It could back-fire and sway the vote the other way.

Vix Lowthion

I think it’s Labour who are stating this. Greens have not claimed that.

Geoff Lumley

The Tories clearly believe that or they would not be suggesting it

Robert Jones
As has been pointed out, this is one of those more-or-less legal things depending on the decision in each individual case of the Returning Officer: though how that officer is supposed to judge how much time an individual spends in their second home is beyond me. It’s an anomaly which ought to be ended, even though that can be a bit complicated because it affects students as… Read more »
Geoff Lumley

As the local Labour Agent 1998-2010 I never saw the local Tories stoop this low. This is an indicator of the low character of those Tories who would run our Council for the next 4 years. Don’t let them take control.

deja vu

deja vu. Remember when David Williams included an electoral leaflet in the same envelope as postal votes? I don’t think it ever got proved, but I saw it with my own eyes.

The tories MUST now issue a full statement with correct information and an apology for misleading the public.

Steve Goodman

Last week’s tory statement issued by cllr. Whitehouse (or whatever he is calling himself this week) called for the election campaign to be conducted by all parties ‘in a decent manner’, but did not apologise for misleading the public about what got him and his colleagues into the latest Private Eye.

Mason Watch

Thinking of voting Conservative this year….. Two words to consider – Councillor Whitehouse, enough said

Bunzle Weasel

Brilliant idea ! I’ll register here and vote for Eric Lawson in the Greens. Why hadnt I thought of this before. Thanks Ian…you are a genius.