Paul Marinko 16 September 2019

'Cracks' starting to show in electoral system

Election administrators have warned of ‘cracks’ beginning to show in the electoral system with the prospect of another poll on the horizon.

The Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) today said there was an ‘unrealistic expectation that elections will always be delivered’ regardless of the pressures officers faced.

Its review highlighted the pressures faced by returning officers and their teams from unscheduled polls such as the 2017 General Election and this year’s EU election.

The AEA also branded the existing fees and charges arrangements as ‘not fit for purpose,’ with only just over half of expense claims from councils for the 2017 General Election settled by the Government two years later.

It also predicted ‘significant implications’ from Government plans to move the May bank holiday to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The AEA said its members were concerned about the challenges of recruiting staff and the likely increase in costs of holding a clutch of local elections – including the London and combined authority mayoral votes – a day before the bank holiday.

AEA chief executive, Peter Stanyon, said: ‘These are unprecedented times in electoral administration, with yet another unscheduled national poll being prepared for by stretched and often under-resourced teams.

‘Electoral administrators always deliver but cracks are beginning to show.

'The need for urgent and positive action to support electoral delivery is more pressing than ever.’

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: ‘We are confident in our system’s preparedness for future elections, but we are always looking for ways to improve our electoral system and will carefully consider the recommendations of this report.

'We appreciate the vital work of electoral administrators in maintaining our democracy.’

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