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Public survey finds high satisfaction with electoral processes, and backing for further reform

Published: 11 Oct 2017

High public satisfaction with the way elections are run, and support for recent reforms to the system for registering to vote, are combining to produce an appetite for further change. New research published by the Electoral Commission has found this to be particularly clear among younger electors, with two thirds of 18-34 year olds supporting the idea of automatically registering electors when they are issued with National Insurance numbers.

Following the successful introduction of online registration in Great Britain in 2014, the Commission has recommended that the next step in modernising the registration process is to enable people to be automatically registered to vote when interacting with national and local government agencies.

Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said:

“Online voter registration has shown people how digital tools can transform this public service. Our public opinion research reveals an appetite to push further, to make connections with other public services. Linking voter registration to National Insurance numbers would help increase levels of registration and also save time and resources”.

The Commission’s report Voting in 2017 is based on surveys with over 6,000 members of the public following the polls that took place in 2017, as well as on other insights from data gathered in relation to the 2017 polls. It provides an overview of public attitudes towards the process of voting and democracy in general, as well as identifying wider trends around turnout, engagement and awareness.

The report confirms higher turnouts at nearly all the polls in 2017. Improved engagement at June’s general election amongst 18-34 year olds, compared to 2015, was particularly important for this. However, local elections continue to lag well behind. Nearly half of 18-34 year olds in England said they lacked the necessary information to make an informed choice at the local elections in 2017.

Electoral Integrity

Almost 80% of respondents felt the general election was well run and the vast majority of the public (79%) believe that voting is safe from fraud and abuse. However, perception of electoral fraud continues to be an issue at UK elections. The report indicates that lack of voter identification in polling stations contributes to this view. In June, 15% of those that believed fraud had taken place thought the lack of ID had contributed to that belief.

Sir John Holmes continued:

“It is good that most people think our elections are safe and well-run. But the Commission takes the risk of electoral fraud very seriously, and is bound to be concerned by public worries about this. We have previously recommended the introduction of an ID requirement for voters at polling stations in Great Britain, as has been in operation successfully in Northern Ireland for some years.

That is why we welcome the UK government’s pilot scheme for voters to show ID at polling stations at the May 2018 local government elections in England. We will publish a full, independent evaluation of this by summer 2018.”

The report is available on the Commission’s website.


For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 Out of office hours 07789 920 414 or

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. In July, the Electoral Commission published a report on electoral registration at the general election which can be found here The Commission will issue further reports on accessibility, the administration of the poll and the regulation of political finance later this year.
  3. This report uses findings from public opinion surveys carried out for the Electoral Commission after every poll. These surveys are intended to measure attitudes towards voting and to monitor and understand the experience of voters. Our three 2017 surveys comprised 6,154 interviews the public in the weeks after each poll.
  4. In 2017 over 44 million votes were across the UK at 6 different polls:
    • The scheduled local government elections in England, Scotland and in Wales
    • The six inaugural Combined Authority Mayor elections in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West of England and the West Midlands
    • The snap Northern Ireland Assembly election
    • The snap UK Parliamentary general election (UKPGE)
  5. To raise awareness of the elections and how to take part the Electoral Commission ran voter registration campaigns ahead of the polls on 4 May and 8 June. This included TV, radio and digital advertising.