The Commission’s overarching aim is to put the voter first, which is why we undertake a survey every year, right after the elections. This vital research provides us with important insight into the public’s view on the administration of the electoral events.
This year the results are broadly in line with our past findings, but a closer look at the data provides some food for thought, especially in light of the changes to the electoral registration system and the outcome of the elections that left many voters unsatisfied with the voting system.
Confidence and satisfaction with the system
Generally speaking, 85% of respondents said they are satisfied with the procedure for voting in elections and referenda in the United Kingdom.
This figure is in line with the results since 2011, but represents a considerable improvement from 2010 (+10%) when images of queues outside polling stations made people concerned about the conduct of elections. In fact, 91% of respondents said they thought the polls were well run in 2015 as compared to only 71% in 2010.
Interestingly, when asked why they were dissatisfied with the procedure for voting, or were not confident that the elections were well run, the majority of respondents said that they disagree with the use of the first-part-the-post system which they felt was unfair and out of date.
As you may have seen in previous blogs on the topic, over the last 12 months the system of electoral registration has changed, with the introduction of online registration and the change in onus to require voters to register individually, rather than as a household, in order to make the system more secure.
Our findings show that the changes have not affected significantly people’s satisfaction with the system, as 83% of respondents said they were satisfied with the process. This is consistent with previous results but this year the key difference is that 62% of respondents said they were ‘very satisfied’ with the process compared to 57% in 2010.
This could be due to the introduction of online registration, which proved very popular among people traditionally under-registered such young people. In fact, those aged 18-34 years old reported higher level of satisfaction in 2015 than 5 years ago – with 48% of them saying they were very satisfied in 2015, up from 37% in 2010. This is a positive sign from the modernisation of the system.
As always, voters were also highly satisfied with their experience of voting at a polling station (94%) and by post (97%) and these figures are in line with previous results.
It is worth noting that polling station voters who don’t work (such as pensioners) were more likely to be ‘very satisfied’ than those who work (79% vs. 69%). This could be linked to the convenience of polling station opening hours (Thursday 7am – 10pm) as some non-voters claimed they would have been more likely to vote had polling day been on the weekend or if they could have voted online.
The survey also raised some concerns around polling station voting and disability as people who reported having a disability were marginally more likely to be dissatisfied with the procedure for voting at polling station than those with no disability (5% vs 2%).
Interestingly, the 2015 survey also confirms that those who don’t vote are much more negative about all procedures. For example, only 44% of those who never voted said they are satisfied with the procedure for voting in elections and referenda in Great Britain (vs. 88% of those who always vote), while 48% of respondents who didn’t vote think that polling station voting is convenient against 90% of those who actually vote at polling station.
While general satisfaction with the voting process is high, we continue to look at ways to further improve the public voting experience while ensuring a safe and secure system. All our recommendations to improve issues on the electoral process identified from this survey are in our post-elections report, published on 14 July 2015. You can also read our blog on this report here.
Senior Research Officer