The Coalition Government's Programme of Change - 2010 to
Ministerial responsibility for law and policy on the conduct of
elections now lies with The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, the Deputy Prime
Minister, Lord President of the Council (with special
responsibility for political and constitutional reform), and Mark
Harper MP, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform.
1. Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill
& Referendum on the Alternative Vote
The Parliamentary Voting System and
Constituencies Act 2011. The Act provided for a
referendum on 5 May 2011 on whether to adopt the “alternative vote”
system instead of the current “first past the post” system for
Westminster parliamentary elections. It also provides for a
review of the current constituency boundaries to equalise the size
of constituencies and reduce the number of MPs from 650 to
Under the rules to equalise boundary sizes a
UK electoral quota will be established based on the electoral
register. Each constituency would be required to be within 5%
either side of the quota. There are two exceptions to the
quota; the Scottish Island constituencies of Na-h-Eileanan an Iar
(the Western Isles) and Orkney and Shetland.
If a simple majority of voters in the
referendum vote to change to the “alternative vote” system the
provisions to effect this change will be brought into force on the
same day as the boundary changes to constituencies. The
boundary review is to be completed by October 2013 in time to make
changes for the 2015 general election.
The national Referendum was held on 5th May -
click here for the result locally.
The review of Parliamentary Constituency
boundaries commenced in Autumn 2011 and full details appear on
our "latest election news" page.
2. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2012
The Act provides that Parliamentary general
elections are to occur every five years on the first Thursday in
May with the next election occurring on 7th May 2015. General
elections are only to be held earlier than this if either
two-thirds of all MPs vote in favour of dissolution or there has
been a vote of no confidence in the Government and an alternative
Government has failed to gain the confidence of the House of
Commons within 14 days.
The Act also provides for:
· The automatic
dissolution of Parliament in advance of scheduled general
· The abolition of
the Queen’s prerogative power to dissolve Parliament;
· Power for the
date of the poll for a scheduled General Election to be moved by
two months either before or after the scheduled date of poll by the
Prime Minister by affirmative Order approved by both Houses.
The Act will not alter the arrangements
for a vote of no confidence in the Government, which will continue
to be passed with a simple majority. Such a vote will trigger a
period of 14 days and if an alternative Government is unable to
secure the confidence of the House of Commons during this time, the
Prime Minister will recommend a day to the Queen for a general
election to occur and Parliament will be dissolved.
Below is a link to the Act:
3. Individual Electoral Registration
The Coalition Agreement published in May 2010
committed to speeding up the implementation of individual electoral
registration, to tackle electoral fraud. The Minister for Political
and Constitutional Reform, Mark Harper MP, made a statement to the
House of Commons on 15 September 2010, which set out the
Government’s plans to bring individual registration into force in
2014, during the lifetime of this Parliament. There will be no
‘voluntary phase’ of collecting electors’ personal identifiers
prior to this.
Below is a link to the Hansard record of the
This will mean that during the 2014 annual
canvass all existing registered electors and others who may be
eligible to vote, will be invited to register individually and
provide personal identifiers (signature, date of birth and National
Insurance number) that will be used to authenticate their identity
before they are added to the register. Electors will be given
time to get used to the new provisions: anyone who is already on
the register, but does not register individually or who fails to
adequately provide their identifiers in 2014 will be carried
forward until after the General Election and only removed from the
register if, on conclusion of the 2015 canvass they have failed to
individually register. This should help maintain registration
levels through the transition. However it will be a
requirement for any new registrations or any person seeking an
absent vote to be registered individually from 2014 onwards.
The Government also intends to take the
opportunity of introducing individual registration to tackle
problems of under-registration. In his statement to the Commons on
September 15th, Mark Harper announced that we will be
trialling data matching – allowing electoral registers to be
compared to other public databases to identify people missing from
the register - over the course of 2011.
To view the Government White Paper on this change - click under
links below. The White Paper is now a Bill and you can view the
Bill under the latest update below.
Update - February 2013
Registration and Administration Act 2013
Assent on 31 January 2013, and
provides for the introduction of individual
electoral registration (IER) in Great Britain, together with a
number of important provisions about the conduct of elections.
Under the new registration system:
- Electors will register individually rather than through heads
of household. An individual must provide personal information
including their National Insurance number to verify their
- Data matching will be used to verify applications and during
the transition phase will be used to confirm existing entries in
registers. The primary data base will be that of the Department of
Work and Pensions (DWP) but others may be considered.
- A modernised electoral registration system based on IT will be
introduced, making it easier for people to register to vote, and
open up the way for digital applications, principally by using the
local authority website
- Once registered, individuals will need only to confirm annually
that their details have not changed
- The annual household canvas will continue to check register is
complete. Individuals not on the register will themselves be
responsible for applying to register.
- There will be a civil penalty for failing to register (with
stringent requirements in place before a penalty can be issued).
The criminal penalty for failing to return the household canvas
- From 2014 IER will be a requirement for any new registrations
and for anyone who wants to vote by post or proxy.
- Parliament accepted an amendment to the Electoral
Registration and Administration Act which changes the law to allow
electors waiting or in a queue at a polling station at 10pm to be
issued with a ballot paper.
- After 1 December 2015 everyone on the electoral register will
be registered under the new system.
4. Absent Vote Refresh
Anyone who has had a postal, proxy or postal proxy
vote since since January 2007 - which will shortly be over 5
years old - will be sent another form for us to legally
request your latest signature.
Please look out for a new form being sent to your address in
January 2013. Please make sure you sign and return it
ASAP as we legally have to send a reminder 3 weeks later and this
costs us more money.
If you do not return the new form your existing
absent vote facility will be cancelled and you will have to
vote in person.
2012 was the first year of this new process and over
2,500 refresh notices were sent out in the period January to
March 2012 and we received 93% of these back.
The same process has to take place each year.
Electoral & Emergency Planning
Phone (01902) 696119
or write to:
South Staffordshire Council