Statement on Welsh Government flexible voting pilot proposals – August 2021

Our Deputy Chief Executive Laura Lock has made the following comments on today’s Welsh Government proposals to boost voter turnout by running flexible voting pilots at next May’s local polls:

“These proposals contain some good ideas. They may not seem too radical at first glance, but in practice will require big changes and appropriate funding to enable them to be successfully piloted.

“For example, polling stations in supermarkets and education settings would certainly be more convenient for many people, allowing them to vote as part of their daily routine. However, if electors can cast their vote at any polling station in their council area, secure and reliable technology will be needed to ensure people vote only once and in the correct poll/s.

“There is also the issue of ballot papers. Currently, each polling station carries only the ballot papers for the poll/s in the area covered by the station, and the correct amount for the number of electors registered to vote there. We are interested to hear more of the detail about how this could be overcome if electors have a variety of polling stations to choose to vote at.

“Early voting will also be interesting to see in practice. We know it is popular in other countries, and weekend voting may well be more convenient for electors who have less opportunity to go out and vote during the week. Again, we are interested to understand more about the technology and other resources available to support this.

“We want to positively approach the possibilities these pilots will bring to electors and electoral administrators alike and are ready and willing to support them. With Welsh local government elections just nine months away though, time is short to put these proposals in place. Work must start right away to ensure different options can be comprehensively piloted with as much lead-in time as possible.”