19 Oct 2012
The Electoral Commission has called on the Government to change the law so that voters are never again refused the opportunity to cast their vote, as happened at some polling stations during the last general election.
The Commission is continuing to urge the Government to accept an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill (ERA) during its Committee Stages in the Lords. The Commission welcomes the Lords Constitution Committee report, published today, in which it agrees the amendment is necessary for all elections in the UK to allow voters already inside, or queuing to enter, a polling station as the poll closes at ten pm to be issued with a ballot paper so they can still cast their vote.
The Commission recommended this important change following the high-profile problems of queues at some polling stations at the 2010 UK Parliamentary general election which prevented more than 1,200 people from casting their votes.
Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission says ‘In 2010 some voters waiting in queues at polling stations were unable to cast their vote. Good planning can go some way to prevent this from happening again, but it is not enough on its own. Even the best laid plans can go awry. This simple amendment to the law provides the solution to that problem.’
The Scottish Government changed legislation for the May 2012 Scottish local government elections to implement our recommendation. For the first time at any UK election, three people who arrived at their polling stations before the close of poll on 3 May but had not been issued with a ballot paper by 10pm were able to vote because of this change.
Jenny Watson adds ‘There is no good reason for not doing this. It’s a simple change that will provide an important safeguard for all electors, without adding to the administrative burden of those running elections.’
For further information contact:
The Electoral Commission, Johnny Skillicorn-Aston: 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours: 07789 920 414
Notes to editors
- The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections.
- View the Commission’s latest briefing on the ERA Bill here (PDF).
- View the Commission’s interim report: 'review of problems at polling stations at close of poll on 6 May 2010' here (PDF).
- The Lords Constitution Committee 5th Report of Session 2012–13: Electoral Registration and Administration Bill Report is available at www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldselect/ldconst/51/51.pdf