Ministers have accused the elections watchdog of turning a blind eye to electoral fraud among ethnic communities through a fear of offending “woke” sensibilities.
Greg Clark, the Levelling Up Secretary, has told the Electoral Commission to do more to prevent so-called “family voting” inside polling stations, which sees men instructing their wives how to vote.
He said he wanted to stop “any cultural practice of husbands being allowed to instruct their wives” in the voting booth, saying it was an “insult to the hard-fought liberty of female suffrage”.
The Tories have accused the watchdog of failing to tackle the issue in places such as Tower Hamlets.
A report last month found that, in this east London borough, family voting was widespread, with women from Asian backgrounds particularly affected.
‘Law must be applied equally and fairly’
Mr Clark said he will impose his first direction under a new law to allow the Government to tell the Electoral Commission to change its procedures.
He said: “It is completely unacceptable in this age for anyone’s vote to be watched or pressured inside a polling station.
“The secrecy of the ballot is as important in the 21st century as it was in the 19th.
“Any cultural practice of husbands being allowed to instruct their wives how to vote is an insult to the hard-fought liberty of female suffrage.
“The law must be applied equally and fairly to everyone, even if that offends ‘woke’ sensibilities. Conservatives will defend the rights of women.”