Elections are well run, but fewer are turning up to vote

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An Electoral Commission report on English local elections and mayoral referendums held in May shows that the polls went smoothly with 89 per cent of voters saying they were confident that they were well run.

But the report found that there were some areas for concern, particularly with regard to turnout and concerns over electoral fraud.

The turnout for the local elections was 31.1 per cent compared to 35.1 per cent at the nearest equivalent elections held in 2008.

Electoral Commission chair Jenny Watson said: “The elections ran smoothly thanks to the hard work of election staff across the country.

“But the downward trend in turnout is worrying for anyone who cares about our democracy and is a wake-up call ahead of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November.

“We’ll be doing what we can to make voters aware of the elections and how to participate, but it is the parties and candidates themselves that motivate people to vote. With no free mailing and large constituencies, candidates will need to work hard to communicate their policies to voters.”

The report also highlights voters’ concerns about electoral fraud. Just over a third of people (35%) thought that electoral fraud had taken place at least ‘a little’ at the polls.

The Commission is identifying areas at higher risk of electoral fraud ahead of the PCC elections in November and will work with the police and electoral registration officers to ensure robust prevention and detection plans are in place.

Jenny Watson added: “Electoral fraud can involve serious criminal offences and has the potential to damage public confidence in our elections. That’s why we’re pleased the Government has introduced legislation to tighten up voter registration.

“But more needs to be done and we’re disappointed that the government has not taken forward our recommendation to review the case for ID at polling stations. We will now carry out this review ourselves.”