Elections Bill 2021

If you have been keeping your eyes on parliament you will know that the Elections Bill 2021 is making its way into law. It’s not all bad, with some strengthening of the electoral commission, undue influence and finance. There is however the proposal that voters will be required to show an approved form of photographic identification before collecting their ballot paper (England and Wales). Such a move, as will any additional barrier,  is likely to have an effect on turnout. Some good news though is that it is proposed that any voter who does not have an approved form of identification will be able to apply for a free, local Voter Card from their local authority.

Phew, if I so choose I will be able to vote in person, without a passport or photo-driving licence.

All thai has been known for some time yet what is less well known is a proposal to scrap preferential voting for England’s Mayors and PCCs. The current supplementary vote (SV) will be replaced by the awful first past the post system (FPTP). No doubt the government will say that it is to deliver strong and stable Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners though I have not noted there being a problem in any of those elected so far Whatever brand they are, they all seem to be as strong and stable as the next.

Instead, moving back to FPTP will mean that mayors and PCCs will be elected on a poorer mandate, as they can get in with a smaller percentage of the overall vote than through the SV system. This means that more of us will be disenfranchised and so even less likely to vote. After all mayoral and PCC elections do not have that high a turnout anyway.

There can only be one reason that the government is keen to push such a change through and that is they believe it will make them win more of the results, not votes but outcomes. FPTP is a system that suits the Conservatives and so why not play to their strengths.

SV may not be the best system but it is way better than FPTP. It delivers the most preferred candidate, or some might say the least worst. The government is proposing a regressive step and democracy will be the worse for it.

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