Electoral Commission recommends election changes

By agency reporter
November 21, 2017

Research conducted as part of the Electoral Commission’s Standing for office in 2017 report found that 89 per cent of candidates were satisfied with the administration of the general election – up five percentage points since 2015. The vast majority of candidates also felt that voting at the election was safe from fraud or abuse. However, perceptions of fraud continue to be an issue and a sizeable minority said  they thought some fraud had taken place.

Craig Westwood, Director of Communications and Research at the Electoral Commission, said, “We are pleased that most candidates were satisfied with their experiences of standing for office in 2017, but note the concerns about fraud raised during this study. Fraud, and the perception of fraud, undermines our democracy; this is therefore an issue the Commission takes very seriously. As one way to alleviate concerns, we have previously recommended the introduction of an ID requirement for voters at polling stations in Great Britain, and welcomed the UK government’s voter ID pilots scheduled to take place in some areas at the May 2018 local government elections. We will publish a full, independent evaluation of this by summer 2018.”

The report also notes that one in five respondents in the Commission’s research said they experienced difficulty raising the £500 deposit required to stand in a general election. The Electoral Commission has previously recommended the removal of this financial barrier and the abolition of deposits at all elections.

The report also captures the experiences of candidates from this year’s Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish local council elections, as well as those who stood at the general election. For some candidates across these elections, intimidation was an important issue and in particular, concerns were raised from some council candidates about the publication of their addresses on ballot papers – this requirement does not apply at general elections.

The Welsh Government suggested that it should no longer be necessary to publish a candidate's home address in election literature. The Commission supports this suggestion and has recommended that the Scottish Government reviews the rules on the publication of candidates’ home addresses.

Craig Westwood added, “There should be no barriers to standing for election and the Commission has recommended that the requirement for a candidate to pay a deposit at an election should be removed. It is in the interest of a more diverse and inclusive democracy that personal security concerns do not deter people from standing for election. We welcome the Committee for Standards in Public Life review of intimidation of Parliamentary candidates and will read their final report with interest.”

Read the report Standing for office in 2017 here

* The Electoral Commission https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

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