National and Devolved Politics

06.12.17

Government must implement electoral reform in future general elections

An Electoral Commission report has concluded that changes need to be made to the electoral system to combat future risks following the 2017 general election.

The commission gave credit to returning officers for dealing with an unexpected election announcement and said the majority of elections were well-run.

However, there were question marks over “significant issues” in Plymouth and Newcastle-under-Lyme where large numbers of votes were not included in final counts, and some voters were not correctly registered.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme, two election officers were suspended after a review into almost 1,500 cases of people unable to vote in the general election, while in Plymouth the council was forced to apologise when it failed to include 6,587 in its final election count.

The report says: “We want to see progress by the UK’s governments towards implementing the important recommendations made by the UK’s Law Commissions in 2016 to reform and simplify our complex and fragmented framework of electoral law.

“The Law Commissions’ proposals would bring significant benefits to those who administer elections, as well as those who campaign or stand as candidates, and would support more efficient election administration in future.”

The commission also suggests improving the rules for nominating candidates, appointing emergency proxies and making it easier for the 280,000 registered overseas voters to cast a vote.

In addition, the report recommends making electoral registration more joined-up with other public services to make it simpler for the public and more efficient for Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), and reducing the risk of people voting in more than one constituency.

A total of 46.8 million people were registered to vote in the 2017 – the largest ever electorate for a UK-wide poll.

In general, nearly four in five people surveyed after the election reported they were either very or fairly confident the elections were well-run, and 89% of candidates were very or fairly satisfied with the administration of the election.

Top image: Dominic Lipinski PA Wire

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