May polls in Wales were well run despite challenging circumstances

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Concerns about Covid-19 did not stop voters taking part in elections earlier this year, according to reports published today. Research and analysis from the Electoral Commission shows that turnout in Wales was slightly higher than at the previous elections in 2016, despite the pandemic. 


May’s elections were one of the most complex set of polls held in recent times, with the additional challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, the report finds that 95% of Welsh voters were satisfied with the process of voting and 76% were confident the election was well run. 


There were 51,500 applications to register made from 26 March to 27 April, and a total of 2.3 million were registered to vote in the elections in Wales. For the first time 16-17 year olds and foreign nationals resident in Wales were able to vote. Around 50% of newly enfranchised 16-17 year olds registered to vote in the election.
 

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“The successful delivery of these elections is a testament to the dedication and hard work of Wales’ electoral community. 


Whilst many newly enfranchised voters registered to vote in this election, our research suggests there is further education and engagement work to be done to support new voters to effectively understand and participate in Welsh elections.”
 

Rhydian Thomas, Head of the Electoral Commission Wales said:

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The experience of these polls has also highlighted concerns about the resilience and capacity of electoral administration structures in Wales, which are coupled with the challenges of delivering elections within an outdated and increasingly complex electoral law framework 
 

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“Our report highlights the pressure and and uncertainty that Returning Officers and their staff felt in delivering the election. Further electoral reforms in Wales are being considered and it is important that these are adequately resourced and funded.


We will continue to work in partnership with the Wales Electoral Coordination Board and governments to help build capacity and resilience in the electoral community in Wales.”
 

Rhydian Thomas, added:

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For more information contact Ella Downing, Communications Officer on 029 2034 6824, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or edowning@electoralcommission.org.uk. 

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is required to report on the administration of each national election. The report combines public opinion research, registration and turnout data and feedback from campaigners, Returning Officers and electoral administrators to look at how the elections were run, how voters found taking part, how campaigners got their messages across to voters, and what lessons can be learned for the future.
  2. 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 Welsh, UK and Scottish parliaments.