The delay gives the Sunak campaign more time to make its case before the first votes are cast
The party made changes to its process on advice from the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), part of GCHQ, after warning that cyber hackers could sway people’s votes, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Under the party’s original system, members could vote and later change their decision while the vote remained open.
However, members are not given a unique code that only allows for one unchangeable vote, the newspaper said.
The Daily Telegraph said it understood there was no specific threat from an enemy state and there were concerns about the vulnerability of the voting process.
Ballots were due to be mailed out from Monday (1 August) but could now not arrive until Thursday 11 August.
North West Durham MP Richard Holden, who supports Rishi Sunak, told BBC Newsnight: “I’ve heard they are being delayed.
“I think there is a small security issue that has been fixed, but it will not delay the outcome of the poll, which is vital for everyone.”
An NCSC spokesperson added: “Defending the UK’s 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 cybersecurity guidance and support.
“As you would expect from the UK’s national cybersecurity authority, we have advised the Conservative Party on security considerations in the online leadership election.”
Delays allow Sunak to bid for more votes
The delay in issuing the ballots will give Rishi Sunak more time to make an impression and garner more support before votes are cast after he appears to have lost ground in the race for the lead.
According to a YouGov poll, Liz Truss is well ahead of Mr. Sunak in support from party members, with her lead rising to 34 points.
It shows that 60% of party members polled between July 29 and August 2 intend to vote for the foreign minister, up from 49% since the July 20-21 period when rivals first held the election for the Foreign Minister last two made it.
A source for the Liz Truss campaign told the YouGov poll, “Members are making decisions and they are supporting Liz.
“Your bold and ambitious plan for the country and the economy unites conservatives across our country. But we’re certainly not complacent, Liz is fighting for every vote and hitting as many members as possible.”
By comparison, support for Mr Sunak has fallen from 31% to 26%, according to YouGov, while the rest of the 1,043 Conservative party members polled say they are undecided or will not vote.
In another blow to the former chancellor, YouGov data also showed that 83% of those who currently say they intend to vote for Ms. Truss also say they have made up their minds, while just 17% say they do could change their minds, and 29% of Mr Sunak’s supporters say they could still vote differently.
The Sunak campaign will hope that the extra time to present their case before the first votes are cast will work in their favour.
When will the results of the leadership election be announced?
Tory party membership elections close at 5pm on Friday 2 September. The winner will be announced the following week, Monday 5th September.
The candidate with the most votes becomes leader of the Conservative Party and the next British Prime Minister.