Opinion Former Article

Unlock Democracy: Electoral Commission must be given teeth

Commenting on the Electoral Commission report into the running of the Glenrothes By Election, Director of Unlock Democracy Peter Facey said:

"The Electoral Commission must feel pretty frustrated when they write these reports, as its recommendations are often not acted on by Government.

"For instance in this report, the Electoral Commission again repeat their recommendation for the timetable of elections to be extended to allow hard pressed electoral administrators time to prepare. The report also explains the process of registering new voters and absent voting, areas where the Electoral Commission have made several recommendations in the recent past.

"Our campaign to Stamp Out Voting Fraud calls for a statutory obligation on Ministers to report to Parliament following an Electoral Commission report in which they make recommendations, to explain the Government's position on those points.

"This report follows the Electoral Commission launching an investigation into the source of donations from Lord Ashcroft, an issue they have apparently raised privately on numerous occasions in the past. There is a palpable sense that the Electoral Commission is a toothless watchdog which lacks authority.

"Until politicians take these reports seriously, there is the greater risk of mistakes being made with one of our most fundamental human rights - the right to vote in a secure and transparent election."

Unlock Democracy runs the Stamp Out Voting Fraud campaign, which calls for individual voter registration, increased ballot security and a more powerful Electoral Commission.

BBC: By-election transparency concern

ENDS

(1) See http://tinyurl.com/5e4wxk for a copy of Purity of Elections in the UK: Causes for Concern and other useful background documents.

(2) Unlock Democracy (incorporating Charter 88) is the UK's leading campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms.

(3) For more information, a quote or an interview, please contact Matthew Oliver (020 7278 4443, 07939 668050 or matthew.oliver@unlockdemocracy.org.uk).

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