44. Certain inherent difficulties in postal, proxy or e-voting can never be completely overcome. The advantage and convenience to the electors, and therefore incidentally their contribution to the overall aim of greater voter participation, have to be balanced with the inevitable dangers and risks of these absent voting systems. One may doubt whetherde minimis should be applied in electoral matters a priori. That is a political decision to be taken by each individual country. One realises, however, that if voting takes place in an unsupervised context, it is virtually impossible to guarantee that it will be carried out in secret, and that lack of secrecy constitutes a serious violation of the principles of freedom and fairness that govern elections in democratic states. This applies to proxy, postal or e-voting, that is, to all variations of absent voting. It seems that in Great Britain, after the Howarth Report (1999), the advantages of absent voting were seen as outweighing the disadvantages. The Acts of 2000 and 2006 sought to circumscribe the threats of major electoral frauds by imposing criminal sanctions on some of the more evident cases of organised manipulation or abuse. However, the stray individual act of undue influence or corrupt practice remains very difficult to trace and punish. Apart from bona fide attitude by citizens, the threat of sanctions seems to be the most effective measure to prevent fraud and to guarantee accuracy of postal voting.
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