We believe the Electoral Commission works best as a regulator and policy body. On the relatively rare occasions when there are grounds to suspect electoral offences have been committed, it should refer wrongdoing to the police with a recommendation that it is investigated promptly by either specialist fraud officers or specialise electoral offence officers. Fines for electoral offences should be unlimited rather than a maximum of £20,000 which is an insufficient deterrent.
Campaigns should be required to declare their expenditures online. We already have a precedent for this with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which tracks MPs’ spending. This would make it easier for campaigns to efficiently track their spending and would bring more transparency into elections as well as create a national database for election spending, which currently doesn’t exist.
The Electoral Commission’s current rules in a referendum allow the designated campaign to give up to £700,000 to groups as long as they don’t coordinate their work. It is unreasonable to think gifts of this size are entirely without expectation. Donations from the official campaign to other campaigns should no longer happen.
We have learnt that Facebook data has been harvested and misused by companies to influence the outcome of elections across the world. We are working to lay the groundwork for fundamental reform to how digital spaces operate in our democracy. This includes outlining a process for change, underscoring the framework for this change and ensuring access and participation for a range of stakeholder groups. Please refer to our further work on this.