David Cameron’s reforms to the voting system have narrowly survived an attempt to kill them off in the House of Lords, despite warnings from the Electoral Commission that people could be disenfranchised. Peers rejected a fatal motion that would have stopped the Conservatives bringing forward use of a new electoral register to December 2016, even though it contains up to 1.9 million fewer names than the old register. The new register requires everyone to be registered as an individual, which differs from the old system under which the head of a household was able to register all occupants. The narrow win will be a relief for Cameron after the House of Lords voted down the government’s cuts to tax credits on Monday.
Labour has accused David Cameron of attempting to rig the electoral system, after the government ruled it would adopt a new electoral register this year even though up to 1.9 million voters on the old list are still missing from it. The government said it would adopt the individual register from December this year, overruling the advice of the Electoral Commission, which said it should not be implemented until December 2016. There are currently 1.9 million more voters on the old household register – under which one person was responsible for registering everyone in the home – than the new individual register. The discrepancy has raised concerns that many of these people will lose the right to vote unless they re-register before elections in May 2016.
The chaotic queuing seen at some polling stations at the 2010 general election will not be repeated this time around, the head of the Electoral Commission has said. Jenny Watson said there was now a “safety valve” that meant people in a queue as polls closed could still vote. More than 1,200 people were left queuing as polls closed at 22:00 on election night in 2010. Police were called to deal with angry voters who had been turned away. Voters in Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, parts of London and Surrey were affected.
United Kingdom: Scrap the £500 deposit to run for parliament, says Electoral Commission | The Guardian
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regulator sets out a range of recommendations to update the rules on standing for election, which it says are “complex, out-of-date and difficult for candidates to navigate”.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.
With the 2015 UK general election approaching and the increasingly digital nature of society, electronic voting is once again being promoted as the next stage in the evolution of democracy. But despite the ease and cost-saving opportunities, security questions remain. In a speech to the University College London Constitution Unit in March 2014, Jenny Watson, chair of the election watchdog the Electoral Commission, revealed the commission was examining a range of ways to make voting more accessible, including “radical options such as e-voting”. … The UK is not the only country to conduct research into electronic voting. In 2005, The Pentagon in America decided to drop their proposed online voting system which would have allowed overseas military personnel the opportunity to vote in the elections later that year. The reason cited by the deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz was the inability to ensure the legitimacy of votes. Despite this, the US government continues to employ touchscreen voting machines in their elections.
The UK should consider allowing internet voting in elections because the current system risks appearing alien and outdated to an increasingly disenfranchised younger generation, the election watchdog has said. Launching a review of modern voting, the head of the Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, warned that the state of the electoral system was “not an issue that can stay on the slow track any longer”.The long-term trend of falling voter turnout was particularly marked among young people, she said.
At first sight, the suggestion from the Electoral Commission that voters should be required to show photographic ID at polling stations appears sensible. On closer examination, it is not so straightforward. The rationale for the move is to reduce the incidence of electoral fraud. Yet the latter is, as Jenny Watson, chairman of the commission, pointed out, fairly unusual. So before the entire population is required to provide such ID, there should surely be a greater effort to clamp down on fraud where it is known to exist. The commission identifies 16 “suspect” areas and makes the point that some communities, “specifically those with roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh”, are particularly vulnerable to the practice. Yet politicians are reluctant to say so, not least because when they do, the roof caves in – as Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, found a few weeks ago when he raised the issue in an interview with this newspaper.
Voters should be required to show photo ID at polling stations in Great Britain to lessen the risk of fraud, the Electoral Commission has said. The elections watchdog said it planned to introduce the change in time for the 2019 local government and European Parliament elections. Although it has yet to confirm full details of the plan, it said it would be based on the Northern Ireland model, where voters already need photo ID. Campaigners No2ID condemned the plan. But Electoral Commission chairwoman Jenny Watson said most voters could use passports, driving licences or even public transport photocards to prove who they are at polling stations. Those without any of these documents could request a free elections ID card, she added.
The Electoral Commission is to review whether voters should produce identification at polling stations amid continued concerns about electoral fraud. It said it was disappointed the government had not conducted its own review. The review was announced as the elections watchdog published its reports on May’s local elections, in which it highlighted voters’ concerns about the potential for fraud. Allegations of fraud in Tower Hamlets, east London, are under investigation by the Metropolitan police. Post-election polling found that about a third of voters felt that fraud had taken place in the 3 May elections, at least “a little”. The government is introducing individual electoral registration to tighten up the voting process, but the commission said it would see whether further changes were necessary.
United Kingdom: Chair Of Electoral Commission Calls On Government To Consider Central Co-Ordination At Welsh Elections | eGov monitor
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.