Individual Electoral Registration and Electoral Administration - Political and Constitutional Reform Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Bristol City Council

1.  We are writing in full support of the proposed draft electoral administrative provision presented to Parliament in July 2011.

2.  The current position where Electoral Services teams could have to deliver the complex parliamentary election event at 17 working days notice, is an almost impossible task.

3.  A parliamentary election is an extremely detailed, precise event with a timetable containing absolute deadlines. For the Bristol electorate of approximately 310,000, we employ 1,000 election day staff, run 156 polling stations, and run four major counts. We plan to be in a constant state of readiness however an extension of the timetable to 25 working days would be very welcome, and would significantly reduce risk. We would also welcome any further extension.

4.  We therefore also fully support the proposals to:

—  Adjust a number of deadlines within the timetable, in particular the date for delivery of nominations.

—  Allow more time for the postal vote process.

—  Extend the electoral timetable for UK parliamentary by elections:

—  Polling day to take place between 17 and 19 rather than nine and 11 working days after the last day for delivery of nomination papers.

—  This extended timetable also allows for polling day to be set for a Thursday.

—  Extend the timetable for polls which are re-run due to the death of a candidate.

—  The fresh poll will take place between 21 and 27 rather than 15 and 19 working days after the day on which the election writ is taken to have been received.

5.  We support the proposals of altering registers pending elections ie people applying to be added to the register of electors, close to the registration deadline prior to an election. We understand that the changes will enable more postal ballot papers for those people to be issued earlier, ie closer to the days when other postal vote ballot papers are issued for those already on the register.

6.  We also support the proposals to make changes to the timing of polling place, and polling district reviews to bring them into line with five year fixed term Parliaments with the compulsory review periods. We do as a matter of practice carry out mini reviews following each election. However major reviews require a significant input of Electoral Services time and must be programmed carefully to avoid impacting on major events such as the annual canvass and elections.

7.  Our own experience of candidates demonstrates that some are members of more than one registered political party. It seems eminently sensible that at UK Parliamentary elections where candidates are jointly nominated by two or more registered political parties that they be allowed to use on the ballot paper an emblem registered by one of the nominating parties.

September 2011

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Prepared 4 November 2011