The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Winter Tracker

The ‘Winter Tracker’ is 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.

To access historic reports and data, see our research report library.

Winter Tracker 2017/18

Headline findings

In 2018, seven in ten (71%) electors are confident that elections are well run in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This represents a slight decrease from the previous Winter Tracker, when 76% of electors were confident that elections were well run.  The level of confidence in that year, 2016, was the highest recorded since the Winter Tracker started to record this measure – a period of 8 years – and may have been related to the high levels of engagement in 2016, when the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union attracted a high turnout. This decrease sees the level of confidence remain higher than that recorded in 2015 (66%).

There was variation in confidence that elections are well run across age groups, with over 55s most likely to express confidence (76%) while under 24s were the least likely (61%).

Since the transition to individual electoral registration we have seen an improvement in satisfaction with the system of registering to vote. This has continued into 2018.  Levels of satisfaction with the system have increased to 85% in 2018 from 80% in 2016 (the level recorded in 2015 was 75%).

The Winter Tracker has consistently tracked attitudes to voting in UK parliamentary general elections, but 2018 was the first time that electors were asked about attitudes to voting in local government elections. Attitudes to voting in general elections have remained stable since 2016, with three-quarters saying that they always vote (74% v 75% in 2016) and 17% saying that they sometimes vote (16% in 2016). This was markedly different from attitudes to local government elections, about which 60% say that they always vote and 28% saying they sometimes vote.

There was also variation across age groups in attitudes to voting, with 59% of under 24s saying that they always vote in general elections compared to 88% of those aged 55 and over. The same pattern was reflected in local government elections, where those aged 55 and over were the most likely to say that they always vote in these polls (74%) compared to those aged under 24 (37%) , 25-34 (51%) and 35-54 (58%).

In general, electors consider voting to be safe from fraud and abuse with 84% stating that they felt voting was either very safe or fairly safe. People continue to express greater confidence in the safety of voting at a polling station (88%) than voting by post (73%).

Fieldwork was undertaken by GfK who conducted 1,300 online interviews between 15 January - 5 February 2018. More details on the methodology and the full results of the survey.

To access historic reports and data, see our research report library.

Research