On May 5 2016, over 1 million voters went to the polls for the National Assembly for Wales elections.
Over the summer we’ve been looking back to May 2016 and today we’re publishing our report on the National Assembly for Wales elections, which concludes that they were well-run, with few problems.
In this blog I want to look at the different organisations who came together to work with us in partnership ahead of the event.
- Ahead of May 2016 we found that working in partnership with other organisations was a powerful way to help raise awareness about electoral registration. It gave us the opportunity to particularly reach those people least likely to be registered to vote. This included younger people, students, those living in rented accommodation and people with no fixed address.
- There will always be groups of people who we don’t reach through our TV, radio and online adverts, so the partnerships work really helped us broaden our reach.
- Working with other organisations meant that we were able to share expertise and produce joint resources with partners like RNIB Cymru, Mencap Cymru and homeless charities. These targeted resources about registering to vote and voting reached their intended audience through our partners. The Commission would not have been able to do this, as effectively, alone.
- Activities with partners also created PR opportunities and we were able to gain additional media coverage. You may have spotted some of our giant props in the press or maybe near a famous landmark in your area. These were used by partners at various events and also made appearances on BBC Wales Today and The Sharp End on ITV Wales. We hope to use them again ahead of the local elections taking place in Wales in May 2017 – watch this space!
- Between 1 February 2016, when our partnership activities started, and the registration deadline of 18 April, there were 96,036 applications to register made in Wales. This resulted in 46,779 additions to the register in Wales which exceeded our target of 43,500 for this campaign.
- Our partnership work has been one of the successes of our overall public awareness work and I hope that this success continues as we move towards the 2017 local government elections in Wales.
Looking at some of the other findings in the report, it is worth noting that the combination of the National Assembly for Wales and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales presented significant challenges. To meet these challenges, the Commission set up a Delivery Group which aimed to improve and streamline planning for the May 2016 elections. Membership of the group consisted of representatives from the Commission, senior Returning Officers, Welsh Government, UK Government, AEA Wales and the National Assembly for Wales. One of the main recommendations made in the report is that the Wales Delivery Group should continue to meet and assist with the successful planning of future elections.
Looking beyond Wales, the development of an online service for voters to check their registration status is an important recommendation the Commission has made to the UK Government. This will reduce the burden of processing duplicate applications on electoral administrators and make it significantly easier for voters to be able to update their details and reduce confusion about whether someone is registered or not.
Finally, I would like to thank all those who ensured that these elections in Wales were well-run. This includes the Wales Election Delivery Group, Returning Officers, elections staff, political parties, candidates, the police and voters in Wales.
Read the full report on the 2016 National Assembly for Wales elections here.
Head of Electoral Commission, Wales