Reforms to simplify, clarify and improve electoral law have today been published by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission (the Law Commissions).
The Law Commissions have made a series of recommendations to bring electoral laws into the 21st Century and ensure they work for everyone. The recommendations include:
- The current laws governing elections should be rationalised into a single, consistent legislative framework with consistent electoral laws across all elections, except where there are clear and necessary differences, for example due to different voting systems
- Reform over the conditions required for suspending polls. Currently,
polling can only be suspended by a presiding officer in response to rioting and open violence but our recommendations would allow for any incident where a significant portion of electors are affected and unable
to vote, including flooding and adverse weather or an act of terrorism.
- To introduce just one single set of nomination papers for candidates, replacing the current confusing mixture of forms and authorisations, and to make candidates responsible for delivering these to the returning officer. Currently, a UK Parliamentary nomination involves up to 7 different forms. Some are sent by the party nominating officer, and some are sent by the candidate; some must be delivered by hand, and others can be delivered by post. (Further details in the Notes
- The introduction of digital imprints for online campaign material, including for social media advertisements. This would include who has paid for the advert, as is the case for leaflets and traditional advertisements.
- Improving how election results can be challenged. Our reforms would modernise and simplify the system, allowing returning officers to bring challenges and giving the court the power to weed out ill-founded claims
that waste court time. We also recommend making it clear that parties can rely on protective costs orders (protective expenses orders in Scotland), to limit their exposure to costs.
- A single set of electoral offences should be set out in primary legislation which should apply to all elections. This will include a simplified offence of bribery, for anyone acting with an intention to procure or prevent the casting of a vote at an election.
Law Commission website article: https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/electoral-reforms-would-reduce-confusion-and-bring-elections-into-the-21st-century/
They are interesting and much needed developments we should keep an eye on!