19 September 2019

We need to modernise and strengthen the electoral machinery

The starting gun for a general election has nearly been fired several times. There should be no doubt that an election is around the corner.

When that does come, would electoral officials be ready?

Study after study has shown that UK elections are very well run. And this cannot be said frequently enough in a climate where the public increasingly lack trust in public officials. An increasingly common feature of recent contests has been for electors to bring pens to polling stations, worried that officials might rub off their vote, for example.

But the pressure is on.

Cuts to local government funding has meant that many departments have had to function with less resources. The number of election departments that were over budget substantially rose between 2010/11 and 2015/16 as a result, as a more resource intensive voter registration process was simultaneously brought in. One way in which savings were made was to cut back on the ‘nice extras’ such as voter outreach work. These are not nice extras, however, but indispensable services raising citizenship amongst hard to reach communities.

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