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Local elections process
The Scottish Government today published a Bill to improve the administration of Scotland's local government elections.
The Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Bill is the latest in a series of actions to improve electoral administration following the publication of the Independent Review of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Local Government Elections (the Gould Report). It builds on legislation introduced last year to separate local government elections from elections to the Scottish Parliament.
The new Bill will establish a statutory Electoral Management Board for Scotland; and extend the remit of the Electoral Commission to cover local government elections in Scotland.
The Convener of the Board will be a local authority returning officer appointed by Scottish Ministers and will have the power of direction over local returning officers and electoral registration officers. Extending the remit of the Electoral Commission will bring the oversight arrangements for local government elections in line with those in place for Parliamentary elections.
Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said:
"It's vital that processes relating to the administration of Scottish local elections are robust and fit for purpose. This Bill will establish permanent structures to better regulate these processes, and ensure Scotland's electoral administrative performance continues to improve and continues to put the interests of the voter first.
"The Bill is the next in a series of reforms introduced in response to The Gould Report and represents a further positive step in ensuring there is no repeat of the administrative difficulties which arose in 2007. It will bring reassurance to the electorate and have a positive benefit on the delivery of Scottish local government elections."
The Scottish Government is responsible for administrative arrangements relating to Scottish local government elections. The UK Government is responsible for the administration of Scottish Parliamentary Elections. In his review of electoral administration difficulties which arose in 2007, Ron Gould recommended that responsibility for both elections should be assigned to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government has continued to press the UK Government to devolve responsibility in this area.
A consultation on decoupling elections began in March 2008. The consultation led to the passage of the Scottish Local Government (Elections) Act in June 2009. The Act ensures local government and national elections are no longer held on the same day. This reduces the scope for voter confusion and ensures that each set of elections is given due prominence.