On the publication of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee report into the Elections Bill, we fully support the Committee’s call that UK Government should set out its timetable for a broader review and consolidation of electoral law – over 75 separate pieces of legislation are relevant to elections. As outlined in our Blueprint for a Modern Electoral Landscape, decisive action is needed to reduce risk and bring capacity to elections, including a single Electoral Administration Act.
We also agree the divergence of policy and law between the UK nations is becoming more marked, potentially causing confusion for electors and increasing administrative complexity. A more coordinated approach, as recommended by the Committee, would be welcome.
It is crucial that draft secondary legislation and proposed details of any Voter ID scheme are presented as early as possible to allow for detailed feedback and identify any unintended consequences, particularly those which may inadvertently disenfranchise or discriminate against voters or candidates.There must be sufficient lead-in time for legislation, administrative planning, delivery and voter education. Any new system must also be robust enough to withstand the demands of a high turnout poll. We have concerns at the lack of progress considering changes are planned to be introduced by the next UK general election.
We welcome the Committee’s recommendation on minimum standards for equipment to support voters with a disability and the call for clarity on how this will be funded, at a time when council budgets are being stretched beyond measure.
We remain fully committed to offering ongoing feedback on the practical implications of evolving legislation and standards connected to the Elections Bill.
Our written evidence to the Committee is also available on the Parliament website.