It has been an extraordinary week with measures to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic significantly ramping up and impacting all of our lives.
Perhaps understandably, the publication on Tuesday of a new report into the UK’s electoral law by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission did not receive a great deal of attention. The report calls for a raft of significant and necessary reforms to our democracy, many of which are at the heart of Fair Vote UK’s mission.
The report (which you can read here) described the UK’s electoral laws as, ‘out-dated, confusing and no longer fit for purpose’.
Nicholas Paines QC, Public Law Commissioner, has warned that if the laws are left as they are, ‘there is a very real risk of the electoral process losing credibility which could be catastrophic’.
Some of the report’s key recommendations include:
- Codifying current laws (which are currently spread across 50+ statutes and regulations!) into a single legislative framework.
- A timely call, made before the current crisis led to the suspension of May’s elections, for reform over the conditions required for suspending polls.
- The introduction of digital imprints for online campaign material, including for social media advertisements. This would include who has paid for the advert, as is the case for leaflets and traditional advertisements.
- Improving how election results can be challenged. This would include modernising and simplifying the system; allowing returning officers to bring challenges and giving the court the power to weed out ill-founded claims that waste court time.
These are common sense, necessary reforms and are wholeheartedly endorsed by Fair Vote UK.
In a time of crisis like this it is especially important that our system of government remains fair, robust and fit for purpose.