The £500 deposit required to run for parliament should be scrapped in order to enable a wider range of candidates to stand, says the Electoral Commission. A report by the election regulator sets out a range of recommendations to update the rules on standing for election, which it says are “complex, out-of-date and difficult for candidates to navigate”. It describes the rule that candidates should provide a £500 deposit – which they lose if they do not win 5% of the vote – as unreasonable. “We do not think that the ability to pay a specified fee is a relevant or appropriate criterion for determining access to the ballot paper,” the report says. The watchdog recommends that if deposits are scrapped, candidates should still be required to gather the signatures of a set number of supporters to show that they are seriously contesting an election.
The report also highlights other practices it deems out of date, such as only being able to submit nomination papers in person, and not being able to send them electronically. It also found that there is still some confusion and inconsistency about what disqualifies someone for standing for election and includes proposals for addressing this.
The chair of the Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, said the watchdog had listened to a wide range of views and that the recommendations “will make it easier for candidates to stand for election in the future, whilst maintaining trust and confidence in the system”.