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London elections well run overall but problems at the count must not be repeated

Published: 10 Jul 2012

The Electoral Commission has today published its report on the May 2012 elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

The analysis shows that, on the whole, the polls went smoothly with 89% of voters saying they were confident that they were well run.

But the report found some areas for concern, particularly in relation to the count.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: ‘‘Problems encountered at the count must be addressed to prevent them occurring at future elections. We’ll be asking the Greater London Returning Officer to thoroughly review the evidence in our report to make sure this happens.”

The report also covers a number of allegations of electoral malpractice at the elections and the action taken to prevent and detect fraud before polling day. 
Almost all the allegations are still under investigation and The Electoral Commission will report on these as soon as the Metropolitan Police investigations are concluded.

Jenny Watson continued: “Electoral fraud can involve serious criminal offences and has the potential to damage public confidence in our elections. That’s why we’re pleased the Government has introduced legislation to tighten up voter registration.

“But more needs to be done and we’re disappointed that the Government has not taken forward our recommendation to review the case for ID at polling stations. We will now carry out this review ourselves.”

Key statistics

  • Turnout at the London Mayoral and Assembly elections was 38.8%. Turnout at the 2008 elections was 45.3%.
  • 95% of voters said the ballot papers were easy to complete.
  • 73% of people said they knew a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ about the elections.
  • 82% of people said they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with the procedure for registering to vote.
  • 96% of polling station voters were satisfied with process of voting at their polling station.
  • 2.25 million people voted at the elections.


For further information and interviews contact:
Electoral Commission Press Office on 020 7271 0704
Out of office hours: 07789 920 414

Images for media use, free of charge, at: www.flickr.com/photos/electoralcommissionuk/collections/

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Notes to editors

  1. 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 and are responsible for the conduct and regulations of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
  2. Read the report here (PDF)
  3. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 gives the Commission powers to set and monitor performance standards for electoral services. The standards for both EROs and ROs do not apply in Northern Ireland. Visit our performance standards page to read more: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/performance-standards
  4. All 14 Constituency Returning Officers met eight of the Commission’s 10 performance standards.  Nine however did not meet the performance standard relating to the timely despatch of poll cards. This is covered in more detail on page 9 of the report.
  5. Public opinion data used in the report is based on interviews with 1,000 adults aged 18+ across London. Interviewing was conducted by ICM across Great Britain and took place between 4 and 22 May 2012.
  6. The election count was affected by a number of problems. These included:
    - a power outage at the Alexandra Palace count venue causing significant delays;
    - postal ballot papers being cut during envelope opening process, resulting in them having to be manually entered into the system; and
    - information scrolling too quickly on screens for observers to take it in.