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Candidates are satisfied with the administration of elections but concerns around fraud remain

Published: 17 Nov 2017

Research conducted as part of the Commission’s ‘Standing for office in 2017’ report found that 89% 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 told us 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.”

Today’s 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.”

Today’s report can be read on our website here.

Ends

For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

2. Responsibility for some elections in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This includes responsibility for policy and legislation in relation to the accessibility of the electoral process.

3. In July, the Electoral Commission published a report on electoral registration at the general election which can be found here. The Commission has also issued further reports on accessibility and voter experience. Reports on the administration of the poll and the regulation of political finance will be published later this year.

4. For more detail on our recommendations regarding candidate address publication, please see our report The administration of the Scottish council elections held on 4 May 2017, The 2016 Scottish Parliament election report and The 2017 local government elections in Wales report.

5. In September 2017, the Electoral Commission responded to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s (CSPL) call for evidence on the Intimidation of Parliamentary candidates setting out our views on a number of specific questions raised by CSPL.  Our response can be read here.

Journalist