Electoral Reform

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As the 2016 joint interim report on electoral law produced by the Law Commissions in the UK showed, the legislation governing elections is extremely complicated and would benefit from reform.

In December 2017, in response to this situation, and following the extension of its powers over Scottish elections, the Scottish Government launched a Consultation Paper on Electoral Reform. The consultation, which was supposed to conclude on 12 March 2018, has been extended until 29 March.

The consultation covers a number of issues, but the Government acknowledges that it is not an exhaustive list of potential changes to the legislation covering elections, and would welcome other suggestions for improvements.

The consultation has 25 questions in four topic areas:

  • How often should elections be held, including questions on:
    • whether the Scottish Parliament should sit for 4 or 5 years
  • Who runs elections and how are they run, including questions on:
    • extending the role of the Electoral Management Board
    • role of the Returning Officers
    • order of candidates’ name on local election ballot papers
    • electronic voting
  • Who can register and vote, including questions on:
    • extending the franchise
    • being able to vote in more than one local elections
  • Accessibility of voting and elected office, including questions on:
    • increasing representation of under-represented groups
    • making voting more accessible
    • improving gender balance in elected offices.

The Government intends using the results of the consultation to develop its policy proposals, which may require legislation in the Scottish Parliament.

Francesca McGrath, Senior Researcher

Featured image source: SPICe