Tough new laws to prevent a repeat of Birmingham's postal votes scandal were unveiled yesterday.
Legislation presented to the Commons will create a new offence of falsely applying for a postal vote.
It follows the discovery of fraud in last year's local elections in Aston and Bordesley Green, which led to the sacking of six Labour city councillors.
In a high profile court hearing, election commissioner Richard Mawrey QC said the corrupt practices extended across Birmingham and would not disgrace a banana republic.
Unveiling the new Electoral Administration Bill yesterday, Lord Falconer, the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, said: "At each stage of the process we are tightening up the criminal offences, in part as a result of the Birmingham case."
The new Bill will also create a specific offence of providing false information to an electoral registration officer.
And the Government is to tackle cultural issues which led to fears fraud could be a particular problem in Asian communities.
Information explaining how the electoral system works will be sent to voters in a range of languages.
Postal voting forms will include instructions that will make it clear they should be completed in privacy and secrecy.
And it will become easier to prosecute anyone using " undue influence" to control how others cast their votes.
It follows claims by MPs such as Roger Godsiff (Lab Sparkbrook and Small Heath) that husbands or community leaders had effectively decided how families or whole streets cast their votes.
Elections minister Harriet Harman said: "We want everyone registered to vote, people wanting to vote and nobody fiddling the vote."
But the Government has rejected calls from the Electoral Commission for every voter to register separately.
At the moment one householder can fill in a form requesting postal ballot forms for everyone at their address. The Commission says this encourages fraud, and individuals should apply for their own votes.
But the Government has rejected the idea, on the grounds that it could lead to some legitimate voters missing out on postal votes.
Instead, individual registration will be piloted in one local authority, to see how effective it is.
Ms Harman also revealed the Government is working with Sir Patrick Cormack, the Staffordshire MP whose election was delayed by seven weeks, to ensure this can never happen again.
Nominations had to be reopened, delaying the poll and leaving the constituency without an MP.
When he finally made it back into the Commons, Sir Patrick called for a change in the law, claiming fanatical protesters might even stand for election and commit suicide, in the knowledge it would obstruct the democratic processes.
Ms Harman said Ministers would allow Sir Patrick to add his own amendments to the new Bill, which would become known as the Cormack amendments.
The new law will also reduce the minimum age requirement to stand for election to 18, raising the prospect of teenage MPs.