At the Electoral Commission, we aim to put voters at the heart of everything we do. To make sure that voters can continue to have confidence that the electoral process and party funding regime are run to high standards of integrity, we have been conducting a strategic review into what we do and why we do it.
Over the summer, we invited people to contribute their thoughts and opinions to the review, and asked for comment on risks and challenges to the electoral process, voters’ priorities and areas of policy that people think the Electoral Commission should be taking a lead on.
One overriding theme emerged from our respondents’ views of voters’ priorities and was mentioned in almost all submissions. This was the view that voters increasingly expect voting to be easily available, including by electronic means. In addition, a large majority of respondents explained that they think electoral modernisation should be an area where the Commission should lead the development of ideas.
Many respondents also described the challenges and risks of delivering local services in the context of diminishing resources and dwindling numbers of experienced electoral staff, with the number and complexity of different electoral events adding to this. However, many respondents also felt that these challenges present opportunities to identify new ways of doing things.
Another common theme that emerged was electoral integrity. Several respondents expressed support for the Commission’s call, first made in 2014, to introduce a requirement to provide photographic ID at polling stations; a recommendation which was echoed in Sir Eric Pickles’ recent review of electoral fraud.
The responses we received also made it clear that regulating party and election finance to achieve transparency and integrity continues to be very important to people. Some respondents made the point that regulation needs to keep pace with modern campaign and fundraising techniques, like crowdfunding and social media campaigning.
Having evaluated the responses we received during the consultation, we are now using them to inform our key priorities for the five years from April 2017, and these will be incorporated into our Corporate Plan. Common across all the responses is a wish for continuous improvements in elections and electoral registration to make sure we uphold a healthy democracy, and your input to the consultation has been invaluable in helping us identify the best way to achieve that.
You can read the full summary of the submissions made on our website.