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CALL FOR OVERHAUL OF ELECTORAL LAW

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The outdated system of electoral registration needs reform, according to a ...
The outdated system of electoral registration needs reform, according to a

report out today from the Electoral Commission.

Sam Younger, the commission's chairman, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme

this morning: 'At the heart of what we're recommending is a change in the

way we run the registration system. To move from the traditional and

anachronistic household registration, to individual registration, with

individual identifiers which would then help with the security of postal

voting'.

A further step could be to set up a national electronic register, which

would open the the way to electronic voting in the future, he said.

At the end of July, the Electoral Commission will report on the 38 areas

which ran postal voting pilots in last month's local elections. Mr Younger

said that despite fears that postal voting was insecure, little incidence of

actual fraud had been reported.

A press release from the Electoral Commission follows.

The Electoral Commission has today signalled the most radical shake-up of electoral law and processes since the nineteenth century.

The changes are set out in the commission's new report Voting for change - the culmination of a two-year programme of reviews following the 2001 general election. At the heart of the report is the belief that the current electoral process needs to be adapted to make voting easier and more convenient for modern society, whilst maintaining vigorous safeguards to ensure the integrity of the system.

Some of the key reforms the commission wants laid before parliament include:

- Individual registration, rather than registration by household, to enhance security.

- The introduction of a UK-wide electronic register, compiled locally, which would enable people to vote at any polling station.

- Polling hours standardised at 7am - 10pm to avoid confusion and maximise opportunities to vote.

- Independent candidate s permitted to use a description on the ballot paper.

- Children accompanying a voting adult allowed into polling stations to develop the 'habit' of voting.

- Greater consistency in the nomination process for different elections and the removal of unnecessary barriers to candidacy.

- More robust security arrangements for absent voting and more effective tools for prosecutors including new offences in relation to postal voting.

- Measures promoting equal access to elections such as providing statutory forms in a variety of languages and formats.

- Central funding for electoral services to ensure efficient service delivery.

Sam Younger, chairman of The Electoral Commission said: 'Following the introduction of postal voting on demand and rolling registration in 2001, these recommendations aim to promote participation - to reconnect the voter to the electoral process - while ensuring robust security measures are in place in order to build public confidence.'

Yvette Cooper, minister for electoral reform at the Lord Chancellor's Department said: 'I welcome this report. Voting and elections arrangements need to be updated and made more convenient. People also need to be confident elections are properly secure and fair. The government will now consider all these recommendations in detail with a view to future legislation where appropriate.'

A full copy of the Electoral Commission's report is available here.

ELECTORAL COMMISSION'S FRAUD CONCERNS BACKED

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