Work of the Electoral Commission - Justice Committee Contents


Memorandum submitted by The Electoral Commission

THE ROLE OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

  The Electoral Commission's focus is on effective regulation of party and election finance and on well-run elections, referendums and electoral registration. We are also currently responsible for fair local government boundary arrangements in England.[1]

  The Commission has a critical role in rebuilding and maintaining public confidence in democracy, and in defending politics itself. Political parties and free and fair elections are vital to democracy. Political parties allow competing views to be debated peacefully. This, together with our ability to choose between those views securely and in private through safe elections, forms part of the foundations that underpin our democracy.

  Political parties need to be able to raise money in order to communicate with voters. People need to be confident that political parties are funded transparently because our democracy is threatened if that confidence does not exist. We help to provide that transparency, and make sure politicians and political parties understand and follow the rules on party and election finance.

  We encourage people to register to vote and set standards for well-run electoral registration services. We also set standards for elections management—so people know how to vote, that their vote will be safe, and that it will be counted. In referendums our role is significantly wider, as we have the additional responsibility for the conduct of the referendum. In all that we do, we put the interests of voters first.

  Our evidence sets out the Commission's priorities for the next 12 months. It also identifies some of the longer term challenges and questions facing the Commission on which we hope to hear the Committee's views. As an independent body, accountable to Parliament, the Commission welcomes the opportunity to have its work scrutinised by the Justice Committee.

1. MAKING SURE ELECTORAL REGISTERS ARE COMPLETE AND ACCURATE

  1. Electoral registration provides the foundation of the electoral process, and it is important that electoral registers are as complete and accurate as possible so that everyone who is entitled to vote can do so and no-one is registered who should not be.

  2. No-one should be denied their right to vote because they are either unaware of the importance of registering, or because they find the process of registering too difficult.

UNDERSTANDING ELECTORAL REGISTRATION

Previous research

  3. In September 2005 we published research on levels of electoral registration in England and Wales, which suggested that the best estimate for non-registration in 2000 was between 8% and 9%.[2] This meant that approximately 3.5 million people were eligible to be registered but were missing from the electoral register in 2000. This research was based on data derived from the 2001 census.

  4. In 2007 we commissioned a pilot study[3] to determine the most effective methodology for measuring the completeness and accuracy of the electoral registers without the aid of recent census data. Greater London—the only place in Great Britain without scheduled elections in 2007—was chosen as the testing ground. The three sampling strategies tested did not prove to be robust in reporting on the accuracy of the registers.

Current research programme

  5. In early March 2010, we will be publishing the findings from case study research into the completeness and accuracy of eight local authority electoral registers. The case study research will enable the Commission to begin to:

    —  provide an overview of the accuracy and completeness of Great Britain's electoral registers;

    —  assist with the identification of types of authorities whose registers need to be improved, in order to complement the Commission's Performance Standards work;

    —  be used to inform the Commission's guidance for Electoral Registration; and

    —  provide up to date information on those groups which are more likely to be under-registered and thereby inform the Commission's campaigns approach and material

  6. The report will set out the findings from house to house surveys in each of the eight local authority areas; a check for certain types of anomalies on the registers (using a "data mining" of the registers, plus follow up interviews); and interviews with electoral administrators. The report will also draw on published research and available data sources. An interim report was published in December 2009[4] which covered research into apparent anomalies on the register in all eight local authority areas and showed that anomalies related to repeated names accounted for between 0.33% and 1.83% of entries on the registers we examined; and anomalies related to a higher than average number of entries at the same address formed between 0.8% and 4.56% of the register.

FUTURE WORK

  7. We are reviewing our approach to reporting on completeness and accuracy in light of the findings from the case study research set out above and the new requirements on us, set out in the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009, to report on the move from household registration to individual electoral registration.

  8.  Future research may include:

    —  Reporting on national levels of completeness and accuracy, using findings from the 2011 census and other national data sources.

    —  Case studies that use house to house surveys and "data mining" to report on the completeness and accuracy of local electoral registers.

    —  Data received from local authorities on the take up of individual electoral registration and the provision of personal identifiers.

    —  Public opinion research (focus groups and surveys) to monitor responses to individual electoral registration.

Individual electoral registration

  9. The right to register to vote is of fundamental importance in our democracy. Great Britain is one of the only places in the world where the system of electoral registration is still based on registration by household; that is, where one individual registers everyone living in that address who is eligible. In 2003 the Electoral Commission recommended that a system of individual electoral registration should be introduced in Great Britain to lead to a more accurate and secure electoral register. There has been wide support for this change.

  10.  We welcome the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009, which paves the way to move from household registration to individual registration in Great Britain. This will mean that individuals will register themselves, and to make the system more secure, people will need to provide personal identifiers (signature, date of birth and national insurance number) in addition to their name, address and nationality. At first, the provision of this information will be voluntary. Any permanent move to individual registration—which would mean that people would be required to supply the identifying information in order to be registered to vote—would need to be approved by the UK Parliament, following a recommendation by the Electoral Commission.

  11.  The introduction of individual electoral registration is a major change to the registration system and cannot be made overnight. Proper planning is essential to minimise the likelihood of people "dropping off" the electoral register. In particular, electoral registration officers need time to prepare for the introduction of individual registration; for example, updating their systems to ensure security of personal data and to enable them to check the information provided.

  12.  We share and understand concerns about the possible impact on levels of registration. We will have a key role to play in evaluating the success of the move from the current system of electoral registration by household to individual electoral registration. We will report annually from 2011 on the implementation of individual electoral registration and in 2014 make recommendations about whether the provision of personal identifiers should be compulsory for everyone who wants to be included in the electoral register in Great Britain.

  13.  It is possible that the total number of entries on electoral registers in Great Britain may fall during the introduction of individual electoral registration. This does not necessarily mean that the number of eligible individuals registered to vote has gone down by the same number but rather redundant or incorrect entries are removed from the register. The Commission will monitor registration rates to ascertain the reasons behind any drop.

  14.  We want to make sure that no-one is removed from the electoral register because they might find the new process difficult or inaccessible. We will support Government, Electoral Returning Officers (EROs) and others to ensure that a clear and robust plan is developed for implementing individual registration. As part of this, we want to see proper planning, resources and support in place for electoral registration officers. We will provide guidance and support to help electoral registration officers collect personal identifiers and develop and coordinate a programme of public awareness activity to ensure electors understand what they need to do under the new registration system.

Improving the completeness and accuracy of Electoral Registers

  15.  Regardless of the system of registration which is in place, it is important that electoral registers are as complete and accurate as possible. Responsibility for compiling and maintaining electoral registers lies with the EROs appointed by local authorities in Great Britain and with the Chief Electoral Officer in Northern Ireland.

  16.  In April 2009 we published the first assessment of the performance of EROs in Great Britain[5] against a set of common standards which target the main areas that EROs should be focusing on to achieve complete and accurate electoral registers.

  17.  We were pleased that EROs for local authorities covering 85% of electors in Great Britain met or exceeded the three performance standards relating to the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers, which represent their central statutory responsibilities. We were disappointed, though, that nearly one in five EROs failed to meet one or more of those standards.

  18.  Our performance standards assessments meant that we know where performance needs to improve to ensure complete and accurate electoral registers. We contacted all 58 EROs who did not meet the standards for completeness and accuracy in 2009, in order to agree performance improvement plans.

  19.  Our assessment also identified a general weakness in the quality of planning and management procedures and highlighted concerns about performance in other areas including the role of EROs in promoting participation and ensuring integrity in the registration process. We want to see improvements in these areas too and, in August 2009, we provided a range of resources to support EROs further, including revised guidance and planning templates.

  20.  The autumn 2009 canvass was the last before the forthcoming UK Parliament general election. We will publish our assessment of the performance of EROs at the 2009 canvass in early March 2010. Following the action taken on the results of our first performance assessment, we expect at least three quarters of those EROs who did not meet the standards on completeness and accuracy of electoral registers to have shown improvement this year.

  21.  We will continue to make public our assessments of performance, and we especially welcome the potential role for the Commission in reporting annually on the progress of EROs in implementing individual electoral registration.

  22.  Alongside our assessments of performance of EROs, which focus on the processes they follow and seek to bring consistency of approach across Great Britain, we will also publish new research on the state of electoral registers in eight local authorities as mentioned above. In our first report on ERO performance standards, published in 2009, we drew attention to the limited data that was available on electoral registration rates and on the changes to numbers of people registered to vote. In light of our new research, in 2010 we will develop our performance standards further to make assessments using suitable data. We will look at both sides of the equation, that is, the steps that EROs carry out (based primarily on self-assessment against our detailed standards) and the outcomes they achieved (based on hard evidence from our research programme).

Registration public awareness campaigns

  23.  We have a role, at a national level, in making sure electors know how and when to register to vote. We target our public awareness activity towards groups that we know are less likely to be registered to vote, including people who have recently moved home, young people, members of the Armed Forces, British citizens living abroad and some minority ethnic communities.

  24.  We will launch a multi-media campaign on 1 April to encourage voter registration ahead of the UK Parliamentary General Election (assuming the election is not held prior to this). The campaign will include television, radio, press and online advertising, along with media relations work. The campaign will use the same advertising as our successful campaign ahead of the 2009 European Parliamentary Elections. We will expand our media strategy for the campaign to include a stronger presence on social networking sites and on satellite television channels popular with our target audiences.

  25.  The campaign will build upon the smaller campaigns we have run throughout the year targeting groups such as recent home movers, members of the Armed Forces and British citizens living overseas. We will also work closely with local authorities, providing them with resources they can use for local campaigns ahead of the UK Parliamentary general election.

Election reporting

  26.  The Commission's work reporting on how well elections are run—most recently in relation to the June 2009 elections to the European Parliament and to local authorities in England—has highlighted many important lessons for the next UK Parliamentary general election.

  27.  Our report on the European Parliamentary elections, published in October 2009,[6] found that, overall, those elections were well-run. There were problems with the production of ballot papers and postal votes which affected voters in a relatively small number of areas. There were high levels of confidence and satisfaction among voters with the process of registering to vote and voting itself.

  28.  Regional and Local Returning Officers across the UK generally performed well in delivering the elections, but there were areas where improvements were needed. Arrangements for national and regional coordination provided effective support for Returning Officers.

  29.  Standards for the management of elections for Returning Officers in Great Britain were published in March 2009 and we reported on the performance against these standards for the 2009 European and English local elections. The headline findings are in the election report on the June 2009 elections and our further analysis was published in January 2010.[7]

  30.  Just over 90% of Local Returning Officers in Great Britain met all three of the performance standards relating to the planning and organisation of the European Parliamentary elections. Three quarters met all three performance standards relating to supporting public awareness and participation; the remainder failed to meet one or more of the three standards. A significant number did not have plans for public awareness activities. One in five, that is 73 in total, did not meet the performance standard relating to identifying and managing the risk of electoral malpractice. In the majority of instances, this was because formally documented plans were not in place to identify and manage the risk of malpractice.

  31.  A UK Parliamentary general election presents challenges of a different order to those of the European Parliamentary election. Turnout will be higher than at other elections, and there are likely to be more people voting by post than ever before. There will be several thousand candidates, some of whom will be inexperienced or new to the electoral process. Processes for checking identifiers on returned postal votes will have to be coordinated across local authority boundaries for the first time on a Great Britain-wide scale. And of course, given that a UK Parliamentary general election can be called with as few as 17 working days' notice before polling day, all of those involved—electoral administrators, candidates, political parties and voters—will have only limited time to make sure they are able to play their part.

  32.  We have made a particular effort to make sure these challenges do not create problems which affect the smooth running of the elections. Our report on the European Parliamentary elections highlighted what we thought Returning Officers and others should do to ensure the levels of public confidence and satisfaction that were achieved in 2009 at the forthcoming general election. We wrote to all Returning Officers (ROs) and Electoral Returning Officers (EROs) in August 2009 to make sure they were clear on the actions which they needed to take to be properly prepared for the general election. We have almost completed contacting all Returning Officers failing to meet key performance standards for elections to provide targeted support, in addition to the advice, guidance and group briefing sessions that we normally provide ahead of an election. We are also contacting all new or inexperienced Returning Officers and electoral services teams, to provide any necessary guidance and resources.

  33.  We look forward to hearing the views and observations of the Justice Select Committee members so that these can be fed into the final stages of preparing for the general election.

3.  IMPROVING THE WAY ELECTIONS ARE RUN

Improving structures for delivering elections

  34.  We want to see better engagement between Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers within and across regions. There also needs to be more clarity about who is responsible for delivering key tasks such as planning, monitoring performance and ensuring the availability of staff and resources. This would help to ensure, for example, that problems associated with poor quality printing of postal vote materials could be identified and addressed collectively rather than being dealt with in isolation by individual Returning Officers. We also believe that in future there will need to be powers to require action by local officers to ensure consistent and effective performance particularly in light of the introduction of individual electoral registration.

  35.  We recommended that one way to achieve this would be through the establishment of Electoral Management Boards (EMBs) to include Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers across Great Britain. Although the establishment of EMBs is one possible solution, we did not wish to impose any particular structure. Rather, we have challenged Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers to develop improved structures that work best for their regions or nations.

  36.  In Scotland, for example, an interim EMB has been established, with an initial focus on supporting the Regional Returning Officer in the delivery of the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. We have been pleased that the Board has made significant progress in bringing greater coordination and consistency of performance to electoral administration in Scotland, and we expect that it will continue to support and monitor the delivery of electoral administration in Scotland over the coming years.

Electoral Integrity

  37.  The Electoral Commission provides support to police forces, Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers in the delivery of their operational responsibilities and reports on levels of malpractice at elections. We take electoral malpractice very seriously—one fraudulent vote is one too many, but cases of electoral malpractice are relatively rare.

  38.  Our report on allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections found that there was no evidence of widespread or large-scale attempts to commit electoral fraud.[8] In elections where more than 22 million votes were cast, there were only 48 cases involving 107 allegations of malpractice relating to the elections. More than half of these cases required no further action, because there was no evidence to support the allegation, for example. Two cases have resulted in prosecution and convictions, including custodial sentences for three people. We are working with police forces across the UK to repeat this monitoring throughout 2010, and we will publish a further report of data and our analysis on cases and allegations of electoral malpractice by the end of this year.

  39.  We are working hard to tackle electoral malpractice and recognise that the elections which will take place in 2010 are very different from the 2009 elections. We will continue to work with Returning Officers, political parties, police and prosecutors to promote electoral integrity and tackle fraud including:

    —  pocket guides produced for police officers, parties and postal workers in Great Britain to help them deal with electoral fraud;

    —  regional events with police and returning officers across the country to improve the understanding of electoral malpractice and improve prevention and detection of fraud; and

    —  an officer in every police force in GB who provides a "single point of contact" for dealing with electoral fraud.

  40.  The introduction of new security checks on postal votes (signature and date of birth when you apply and then when you cast your vote) has led to a reduction in the scale and volume of allegations of postal vote fraud. However, we recognise that further changes are vital to ensure vulnerabilities in the system are tackled, which is why we have welcomed legislation in 2009 which provides for a move from the current system of household registration to a system of individual registration in Great Britain. A move to individual registration is essential to make the electoral register—the bedrock of the electoral process—much more secure.

4.  OUR ROLE IN FUTURE REFERENDUMS

  41.  There is potential for a referendum in Wales on law-making powers of the National Assembly and, at UK-wide level, there has been considerable recent speculation about the possibility of referendums on topics including electoral reform. There is also the possibility of a referendum in Scotland on independence, though based on current information that would be a non-PPERA referendum, for which we would have no statutory responsibility under existing legislation.

  42.  We have therefore recently reviewed our referendum planning and our approach to managing a referendum, which includes the Chair of the Commission or a nominee being the Chief Counting Officer for a referendum. In doing so, we have in particular sought to take account of our UK-wide responsibilities operating in the context of devolution.

  43.  This review has included looking at how we assess the intelligibility of the question and our preferred approach is published on our website, as are our Referendum question assessment guidelines.[9] We would assess the question using our guidelines, taking account of evidence from research with voters, and discussions with key stakeholders and plain language and accessibility experts.

  44.  In respect of referendum campaign spending and funding, our responsibilities include:

    —  making recommendations to Government on campaign spending limits for sub-UK referendums (spending limits for UK-wide referendums are specified in the 2000 Act);

    —  registering those who want to spend significant amounts on campaigning in the referendum as "permitted participants";

    —  where appropriate, appointing lead campaign groups ("designated organisations") for each outcome;

    —  ensuring that designated organisations have access to certain assistance, including grants that we determine within statutory limits; and

    —  monitoring and reporting on campaign spending.

  45.  In our evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee[10] we set out our objectives for the conduct of referendums and the principles underlying our approach. We also discussed how we would expect to carry out some of our key statutory roles, including commenting on question intelligibility, making recommendations on spending limits in sub-UK elections, and setting the level of grants to be made available to designated organisations. We intend shortly to publish a paper for wider circulation setting out the principles that we intend to apply when carrying out our duties in relation to referendums, and inviting our stakeholders to give us their views. We would welcome the Committee's views on our proposed approach as set out in our evidence to the Constitution Committee. We will also review and report on the role of the Chief Counting Officer and on the lessons that can be learned from that model of managing an election.

5.  BUILDING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN TRANSPARENCY OF PARTY FUNDING

Increased transparency

  46.  Since the 2000 Act came into effect, the Commission has published details of: over 25,000 donations to political parties with an overall value of almost £364 million; and almost 2,600 donations to individual politicians and groups involved with political parties, worth almost £21 million.

  47.  Since 2006, when borrowing by those we regulate began to be covered by the law, we have published details of close to £76 million of borrowing including:

    —  nearly £58 million of loans;

    —  almost £17 million of overdrafts and other credit facilities; and

    —  over £1 million of securities connected to loans.[11]

  48.  Political parties have steadily improved their reporting performance over this time, partly because we have used statutory penalties to encourage compliance. The proportion of parties delivering their donation returns on time has risen from 63% in 2005 to 97% in the first three quarters of 2009. We aim to continue this improvement.

  49.  The Commission has established strict time targets for key phases of its enforcement work. In 2009, the Commission met its targets of conducting 90% of initial case assessments within five working days, and 90% of case reviews within 90 days. The Commission also aims to complete 90% of its investigations within six months and following questions from the Speaker's Committee, has set a target from 2010-11 of completing all its investigations within one year. The Commission has instituted enhanced case planning and supervision to ensure that these targets are met.

  50.  There are 392 registered parties in the UK: 44 on the Northern Ireland register and 348 on the GB register (as at 27 January 2010). This is compared to 371 registered parties in 2008 and 382 parties in 2009.[12]

  51.  The forthcoming UK Parliamentary general election will bring greater public scrutiny of party fundraising and spending. We are committed to helping those we regulate to understand and follow the rules. We have updated our guidance on donations and campaign spending for candidates and agents, political parties and "third party" campaigning organisations.

  52.  We offer tailored advice on specific issues and are providing training to parties, and their candidates, including on the new rules introduced by the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 which cover candidate spending between 1 January 2010 and the dissolution of Parliament. We will monitor campaigning activity in the run-up to the poll and publish weekly donation reports from parties. After the election we will publish the spending returns of parties and campaigning organisations, and report on emerging trends.

CHANGES ARISING FROM THE POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS ACT

Changes to enforcement and sanctions regime

  53.  The regulatory regime governing political parties must be flexible and proportionate, reflecting the fact that many of those with statutory responsibility are volunteers. Wherever possible we aim to use advice and guidance, rather than enforcement, to encourage compliance with the rules. At the same time, the Commission must have the power to be an effective regulator and to enforce the rules when necessary, as recommended in the First Report of the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee in 2006-07.[13]

  54.  The Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 provides for new investigatory powers and sanctions which will significantly improve our ability to regulate in an effective and proportionate way. When these provisions are commenced we will have access to flexible civil sanctions as an alternative to referral for criminal prosecution in many cases, enabling us to apply sanctions that are appropriate to the nature of each contravention. We will also be able to use new and constructive approaches to secure compliance with the law where appropriate, rather than imposing a traditional penalty. For instance, we could issue a legal notice requiring a non-compliant body to take specified steps, such as amending systems or training party officers in how to fulfil their legal obligations. This will enable us to take a proactive approach to regulation, aimed at preventing future breaches of the law as well as punishing past breaches. We will use a combination of advice, guidance and sanctions to improve transparency, to help people understand how to follow the rules, and—when things do go wrong—to move those who break the law into future compliance.

  55. The Government said in November 2009[14] that subject to the will of Parliament it intends to commence the Commission's new investigatory sanctions and powers on 1 July 2010. The detail of the new sanctions is set out in a statutory instrument which the Government tabled in late January. We welcome the contents of the statutory instrument, which are informed by and consistent with the responses to our recent consultation on our future enforcement policy (see below). We understand that the secondary legislation commands broad cross-party support. However, we are concerned and disappointed that dates for its debate in Parliament have not yet been set. A delay in making this secondary legislation will create uncertainty both for the Commission and for those we regulate. We would welcome the Committee's support for prompt Parliamentary scrutiny of the statutory instrument, which would allow the new powers and sanctions to be commenced this summer.

Enforcement policy consultation

  56.  In line with the principles of better regulation, the PPE Act requires us to consult on and publish guidance on how we will operate the new sanctions before we can begin to use them. We therefore launched a full public consultation in July 2009, soon after the Act received Royal Assent. The consultation ran for 15 weeks and included meetings with elected representatives, party compliance staff, regional officers and front-line volunteer treasurers as well as other stakeholders. We also commissioned independent research involving focus groups and interviews with members of the public and volunteer treasurers. We are grateful to the parties for their assistance in engaging volunteers in the consultation process.

  57.  Both the consultation responses and the findings of the research indicated broad support for the new sanctions and for our proposed future approach to enforcement. We will publish a report on the consultation and a near-final draft of our future enforcement policy to assist Parliament's consideration of the statutory instrument giving effect to the sanctions, and will publish the final enforcement policy before our new powers and sanctions come into force. We will also publish the findings of the research.

Other changes to the regulatory regime

  58.  The PPE Act introduces a number of other changes to the regime established by the 2000 Act. These include the new rules on candidate spending mentioned above, higher permissibility and reporting thresholds for donations and loans, and changes to the rules relating to members' associations, unincorporated associations and holders of elective office. Most of these changes came into force in January 2010, and we have produced guidance and other materials to help those we regulate to understand and comply with the changes.

STATEMENTS OF ACCOUNTS

  59.  The 2000 Act requires political parties and their larger accounting units to provide us with their accounts for publication. However, as the First Report of the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee in 2006-07[15] recognised, a lack of common accounting practices makes it difficult to compile a comparative account of the income profiles of political parties.

  60.  In 2008 we consulted on proposals to introduce standard reporting requirements for statements of accounts. The two largest parties raised significant concerns about the potential administrative burden of some aspects of the proposals. We have worked with the parties to address these concerns and identify those aspects of party accounting where standardisation is most important (primarily income and expenditure categories).

  61.  We are now about to enter into direct discussions with the major Westminster parties in order to work together on defining an appropriate set of income categories and definitions. Their input will be of great value in producing meaningful and useful information with which to engage the remaining parties in a second discussion stage. The target remains to provide guidance in relation to standardised income categories for 2011, and expenditure in 2012.

  62.  To conclude, we hope this memorandum has helped to set out the role and responsibilities of the Commission and our priorities for the coming year and welcome the opportunity to discuss in more detail at the oral evidence session on 23 February 2010.

February 2010






















1   From 1 April 2010, a new body, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), will take over this work as provided for in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. Back

2   Electoral Commission, Understanding Electoral Registration, September 2005, available at
www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/47252/Undreg-FINAL_18366-13545__E__N__S__W__.pdf 
Back

3   GfK NOP Social Research (2007a) Completeness and Accuracy of the Electoral Registers in Greater London-A Pilot Study: Findings, London: The Electoral Commission. Back

4   Electoral Commission, Interim report on case study research into the electoral register Great Britain (2009) available at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/83305/Interim-report-on-case-study-research-into-the-elector al-registers-of-Great-Britain.pdf Back

5   Electoral Commission, Performance Standards of Electoral Registration Officers, April 2009, (2009) available at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/74034/ERO-REPORT-FINAL1.pdf Back

6   Electoral Commission, Report on the 4 June 2009 European Parliamentary and English local elections, (2009) available at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/81483/2009-elections-report-final-web.pdf Back

7   Electoral Commission, Report on Performance Standards for Returning Officers in Great Britain, European Parliamentary elections (2009) available at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/83887/Analysis-of-RO-Performance-2009-final.pdf Back

8   Electoral Commission, Analysis of allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections (2010) available at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/publications-and-research/electionreports. Back

9   We first published our question assessment guidelines in 2002 and have recently updated them (November 2009). These documents are available on our website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/elections/referendums/legislation. Back

10   Electoral Commission written submission to the Lords Constitution Committee January 2010, available at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/constrefTheElectoralCommission.pdf Back

11   Note: all these figures relate only to Great Britain. In Northern Ireland information on donations and loans to political parties is currently held by the Commission on a confidential basis. The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) will be consulting on the future of the confidentiality arrangements in 2009-10. Back

12   Figures for 2008-09 are the total number of registered parties at 31 December (2008-09) minus the total deregistered during this period. Back

13   House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee, First Report 13 December 2006,
http://www. publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/163/16302.htm 
Back

14   The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr Jack Straw), Written Ministerial Statement on the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 (Commencement) available at Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm091124/wmstext/91124m00 11.htm09112472000011 Back

15   House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee, First Report 13 December 2006, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmconst/163/16302.htm Back


 
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