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PA Media/dpaLondonBritain’s Conservative Party has delayed sending out ballot papers for its leadership election over security concerns.The party has made changes to its process on the advice of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of Britain’s intelligence and security headquarters at GCHQ, following warnings that hackers could change members’ votes.Under the party’s original system, members would be able to vote but change their decision while the ballot remained open but now a unique code will be provided which will only allow one, unchangeable vote.The ballots had been due to be sent out from Monday but could now arrive as late as Thursday August 11.A Conservative spokesman said: “We have consulted with the NCSC throughout this process and have decided to enhance security around the ballot process.“Eligible members will start receiving ballot packs this week.” An NCSC spokesman said: “Defending UK democratic and electoral processes is a priority for the NCSC and we work closely with all parliamentary political parties, local authorities and MPs to provide cyber security guidance and support.“As you would expect from the UK’s national cyber security authority, we provided advice to the Conservative Party on security considerations for online leadership voting.” The Daily Telegraph said it understood there was no specific threat from a hostile state and concerns were around the vulnerability of the voting process.The party has been forced to abandon the plans to let members change their vote if they alter their decision about which candidate to back during the election process, the newspaper reported.A message sent to members said if they wish to vote online they will have to enter their single-use code and fill in security questions.If they choose to vote by post, their online code will be deactivated once the ballot is received, “reducing the risk of any fraud.” The message to members said “it is an offence to vote more than once” - with the threat of withdrawn membership for anyone found to have done so.It comes as Rishi Sunak appears to have lost ground in the Tory leadership race but a reported ballot delivery delay over security concerns could give him more time to make an impression before votes are cast.
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04/08/2022
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