Public confidence in elections at highest level for 10 years

Summary

Public confidence in the running of elections is at its highest level since data collection began in 2012. New findings, published today by the Electoral Commission, show that four out of five respondents are confident that elections in the UK are well run, up from 71% last year. Satisfaction with the process of voting (86%) and registering to vote (86%) were also at record highs.

However, positive perceptions about the transparency of spending and funding of political parties and campaigners have been in decline since the Commission’s research began. Only 14% of respondents said they believed political finance was transparent, down from 37% in 2011. 

Craig Westwood, Director of Communications, Policy and Research, said: 

“The high level of public confidence in the running of elections is testament to the hard work carried out by electoral administrators across the country. 

“Work is now needed to ensure this is matched by confidence in the transparency of political finance. In the last three years we have published information on over £200 million accepted by political parties in the UK, available online for the public to scrutinise. We will continue to work with parties and campaigners to enhance public confidence and trust in political finance.”

The research also found that:

  • There is considerable scepticism about online political information, with 46% of people agreeing that the information they read online is not trustworthy, while 12% agreed it is trustworthy
  • Over 70% agree that it should be clear how much has been spent promoting an advert online, by whom, and why it has been targeted at them 
  • Two-thirds of the public say that requiring voter identification in polling stations would make them more confident in the security of the system
  • Around 4% of respondents say they do not have any of the photo ID expected to be required under upcoming UK Government proposals. This is higher among some more disadvantaged groups

Commenting further, Craig Westwood said: 

“While the UK has very low levels of proven electoral fraud, two-thirds of people would feel more confident in the security of the voting system if there were a requirement to show identification. The UK Government is expected to legislate for the introduction of voter ID shortly. It will be important that any changes balance the need for a system which is both secure and accessible. We will be advising parliamentarians as they consider the measure.” 

The Commission’s research is part of an annual UK-wide survey designed to provide an overview of public sentiment towards the process of voting and democracy in the UK. It covers a range of electoral issues including voting and the registration process, party finance and electoral fraud. This year’s research was carried out online between 29 January and 18 February.

The full report is available on our website

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

Notes to editors

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, Welsh, and Scottish parliaments.

The research was carried out online between 29 January and 18 February 2021, with an overall sample of 3,418 respondents weighted to be representative of the UK population. The sample included 500 respondents from each of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as 500 respondents from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Detailed data tables are available on our website.

Full data for previous years’ tracker surveys are available on request from the Commission.