Electoral Commission
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Electoral Commission report concludes National Assembly for Wales elections were well-run

The Electoral Commission has  published its report on the administration of the 2016 National Assembly for Wales elections which took place in May.

The report concludes that elections were well-run, with few problems.

Public opinion research, carried out after the election, shows that 83% of respondents were confident that the National Assembly for Wales election was well-run. 81% of people found it easy to access information on how to cast their vote with 93% of respondents saying they found it easy or fairly easy to fill in the ballot papers.

Whilst the experience for voters was overwhelmingly positive, the report finds that the combination of these elections with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections posed significant challenges for Returning Officers, their staff and those involved in campaigning at the elections.

A Wales Delivery Group was established by the Commission to address the challenges ahead of May 2016. Membership of the group consisted of representatives from the Commission, Senior Returning Officers, Welsh Government, UK Government, AEA Wales and the National Assembly for Wales. The report recommends that this group should continue to meet to improve and streamline electoral events in Wales.

Gareth Halliwell, Electoral Commissioner, Wales, said:

“Following the polls in May 2016 we are pleased to be able to report that the Assembly elections were well-run and would like to thank all those involved in administering them. The experience of voters is what matters and our report shows that participating in the elections was positive for them.

“We know that strong communication networks and systems must be in place for an election to run well. We are therefore recommending the Wales Delivery Group continues to exist and assist with the successful planning of future electoral events. The Commission will now seek views from stakeholders about the role of this group going forward.”

The Commission is also asking that the UK Government consider the impact of holdingcombined UK Parliamentary general election and Police and Crime Commissioner elections in Wales in 2020. Voters in Wales will be faced with two different ballot papers across two different voting systems, similar to the situation that we saw in Wales with the May 2016 elections. This will present a huge challenge, if these elections continue as currently planned, but we hope the establishment of the Wales Delivery Group will help to mitigate the risks.

The Commission will also work with the Welsh Government to publish a clear analysis on the costs of the election. This is based on recommendations made relating to the transparency of costs for elections and referendums contained in the Commission’s report on the costs of the May 2011 referendum on the UK Parliamentary Voting system.

Other key recommendations to improve the experience of voters in Wales

  • For the Commission to work with stakeholders to establish a group to consider Welsh language regulations during the drafting period to ensure greater accuracy and timely availability.
  • The Wales Delivery Group should consider the colour of ballot papers to be used in each election and how to improve regional and cross-authority working.
  • The UK Government should develop an online system that would allow voters to check whether they are already registered before they submit a new application.
  • Returning Officers should be required to publish candidate expense returns online in order to increase transparency in the system.
  • The Commission supports the Law Commissions’ work to simplify and improve electoral law in the UK which will enable elections to be run more efficiently and cost-effectively than at present. It will also ensure that the law is fit for purpose and more accessible to those who need to use it, including candidates and voters.  We continue to urge the UK and Scottish Governments give the required permission to enable the project to move on to the next stage and have recommended that the Welsh Government also support this call.

Contact

For further information please contact Daneka Norman in the Electoral Commission press office, Wales, on 02920 346803 or dnorman@electoralcommission.org.uk.

Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulations of referendum held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
  2. On Thursday 5 May 2016 there were National Assembly for Wales elections and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections held across Wales.
  3. The report looks specifically at the administration of the National Assembly for Wales elections. For more information on these elections please see our media handbook here
  4. The Commission has also published a report on the administration of the 5 May 2016 Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales, including the local government elections held across parts of England. This is available on our website.
  5. The Commission has published further reports on the conduct of each of the elections that took place across the UK on Thursday 5 May 2016. For information relating to other election reports please contact the Electoral Commission press office or see the Electoral Commission website

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