The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Statement on Scottish independence referendum

Published: 10 Jan 2012

For immediate use.

Responding to today’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Scotland about the independence referendum, the Electoral Commission has reiterated its view about the importance of making sure that any proposals for the referendum should ensure it is run in the interests of voters.

Electoral Commissioner John McCormick said:

“It is important that any proposals relating to the conduct of the referendum in Scotland are considered carefully and fully.  Whether or not there is a referendum, who runs it and who votes are all fundamental constitutional questions. And as we’ve said before, it is right that the nature and scope of any referendum is decided by governments and parliaments. It is not for the Commission to enter into this debate.

“While it is for others to decide who runs the referendum, we will of course share our experience and expertise when we set out our views to both parliaments and governments on the consultation published today. Our priority is to ensure the referendum is well-run, transparent and open to scrutiny."

  • The Commission has previously set out its principles for the conduct of referendums.  All referendums should be run in a way that engenders confidence, is credible, transparent and open to scrutiny. To do this the following will be important:
  • A well-planned poll which is consistently and professionally delivered
  • A clear process for the designation of campaigners and clear rules for those campaigners
  • Transparency in relation to campaign expenditure and funding
  • A comprehensive public awareness campaign so that voters know how to participate and what they are voting for
  • A careful and independent assessment of the intelligibility of the referendum question


For further information contact:

The Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours 07789 920414 

Further information about the Commission’s principles for the running of referendums and learning from the two referendums conducted last year are on our website: