Campaigners say passing voting reform ‘without scrutiny’ sets ‘dangerous precedent’

Campaigners have condemned government plans to change the voting system, warning that the sweeping changes are being ‘rushed through without consultation’.

Under new changes to the Elections Bill – added as an amendment during committee stage last month – First Past the Post would be imposed on elections for both Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales replacing the preferential supplementary voting system currently used.

The groups have criticised the move warning that the changing voting systems without scrutiny will set a “dangerous precedent”.

Commenting on the lack of pre-legislative scrutiny for the Elections Bill, Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The government is setting a very dangerous precedent by rushing these sweeping constitutional changes through with minimal scrutiny. Mandatory voter ID makes it harder for everybody to vote and risks disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters. Changes to the Electoral Commission threaten the independence of our elections watchdog, and new restrictions on civil society campaigning have raised serious concerns about free speech.”

She went on: “Most of this bill received no pre-legislative scrutiny, in contrast to legislation such as the Online Harms Bill. There has been no formal public consultation on the bill as a whole, and ministers are ignoring the recent Committee on Standards in Public Life report and the principle that governments should consult on big constitutional changes.”

She also said that devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had not been adequately consulted.

Electoral reform pressure groups Fair Vote UK, Unlock Democracy, Best for Britain and Make Votes Matter have also criticised the plans.