Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission and Chief Counting Officer at the recent referendums on the Parliamentary Voting System, and the powers of the Welsh Assembly, will today propose that consideration should be given to introducing greater central coordination of elections, learning from the structure that was in place at those referendums.
The administration of the referendum was significantly different than that at elections with the Commission taking on a central oversight role and the Chief Counting Officer able to direct returning officers and monitor their performance ahead of polling day to achieve best practice. In contrast UK parliamentary general elections are administered locally by returning officers, with no national coordination. The Commission’s role is limited to offering guidance.
Ms Watson will make the recommendation in a speech to the Constitution Unit reflecting on the referendum experience. She will set out ideas for how the administration of elections and referendums can be improved to deliver the best possible service to voters. She will argue that the central coordinating role taken on by the Electoral Commission and the Chief Counting Officer’s power of direction for this referendum delivered significant benefits for voters.
The Commission is currently collecting information from voters, campaigners, parties and electoral administrators on the lessons from the 5 May polls and will publish a full report in October 2011.