05 Jul 2011
It is important that all guidance published by the Electoral Commission is accurate and trusted and as today’s report identifies there were mistakes made by the Commission in the issuing of our guidance for the May 2011 election.
The law requires candidates standing for election to ensure they are eligible for nomination. All candidates must sign and submit a declaration saying they are eligible to stand for election. It is critical that both candidates and parties are aware of the correct legal requirements and that there is a process in place within each party to ensure that the correct checks take place.
The Welsh Government did not formally inform the Commission or any other public body of the updated National Assembly for Wales Disqualification Order 2010, which came into effect on 11 January. Once the Commission became aware of the change to the Order , the relevant English language guidance for candidates “Can you stand for election?” was updated on our website on 11 March – still well before the deadline for nomination as a candidate, which was 4 April.
However, the Welsh language version of the guidance for candidates was not updated ahead of the election. We regret and apologise for this very rare error and have reviewed our internal processes to ensure such an error does not occur in future.
Paper copies of the unrevised guidance were sent for delivery to Returning Officers for local distribution, but on 24 March we issued an erratum to all local authorities highlighting the error, which was still in time to ensure that candidates were made aware of the updated Disqualification Order.
There is, however, one aspect of the report that we do not believe accurately reflects what we did and this is referenced in the Addendum to the advice of the Chief Legal Adviser to the Assembly (Keith Bush).
We agree that it is important that lessons are now learned – by the Commission and the Welsh Government. As part of that we have already put in place mechanisms to prevent any repeat of our error on the Welsh language guidance and will also consider the wider issues raised in the report.
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