Another election happens and yet still no regulation
Yesterday, voters in large parts of the country voted for the local councillors who will represent them for the next four years. We are in the process of finding out which campaigns were successful and which candidates will work in our boroughs and wards doing the vital tasks of local government . But if you want to know how these candidates ran their campaigns and how they spent their money, you will sadly be disappointed.
This system does not make sense. For one, it’s difficult and confusing for candidates and campaigners who have to sort through months of receipts after the fact and print out their compiled reports into ungainly paper copies.
In most cases, council-level returning officers are in charge of monitoring campaign spending, campaigns don’t send in their spending reports until over a month after the election and most of these reports will not be thoroughly examined to ensure their compliance with the law.
Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project said “We at The Fair Vote Project have devised an effective way this can be improved by centralising and digitising the expenditure reporting process. Modeled after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which was created in response to the parliamentary expenses scandal, an online reporting system would streamline and simplify the process and bring more transparency into elections by allowing the public to see exactly how campaigns are spending their money in real time.
Campaigns would report their expenses in real-time to an emboldened and more centralised Electoral Commission who would ensure that spending was compliant with electoral rules. This was the first election since evidence suggesting cheating in the EU referendum became public. These allegations illustrated well how ineffectual the current system of campaign spending reporting is and we urgently need to update our laws so that we can instil faith in our democratic processes.”