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Electoral Commission's logo
|Headquarters||3 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8YZ|
|Employees||156 (March 2009)|
|Annual budget||£23.5 million (estimate 2009-10)|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
the United Kingdom
The Electoral Commission is the election commission of the United Kingdom. It is an independent body, set up in 2001 by the British Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for how elections should be run.
An election commission is a body charged with overseeing the implementation of election procedures. The formal names of election commissions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and may be styled an electoral commission, a central or state election commission, an election board, an electoral council or an electoral court. Election commissions can be independent, mixed, judicial or executive. They may also be responsible for electoral boundary delimitation. In federations there may be a separate body for each subnational government. The election commission has a duty to perform election related activities in an orderly manner. For election related problems, Election Commission is responsible.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The UK's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
The Electoral Commission was created following a recommendation by the fifth report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) is an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government, established in 1994 to advise the Prime Minister on ethical standards of public life.
The Commission's mandate was set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), and ranges from the regulation of political donations and expenditure by political and third parties through to promoting greater participation in the electoral process. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 required local authorities to review all polling stations, and to provide a report on the reviews to the Electoral Commission.
The Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 granted the Electoral Commission a variety of new supervisory and investigatory powers. It fills significant gaps in the commission's current powers, the Act also provides a new range of flexible civil sanctions, both financial and non-financial are currently proposed to extend to regulated donees as well as political parties.
The Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It implemented the proposals contained in the Government White Paper on "Party Finance and Expenditure in the United Kingdom" published on 16 June 2008.
The Act also permitted the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain and made changes to the structure of the Electoral Commission, including allowing for the appointment of four new electoral commissioners who will be nominated by political parties.
The Electoral Commission faced widespread criticism for the handling of the 2010 UK general election,including allegations of fraudulent postal voting, polling stations being unprepared for an evening surge of voters, policing of voters protesting at one polling station, and only enough ballot papers for 80% of voters.
The 2010 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 6 May 2010, with 45,597,461 registered voters entitled to vote to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system. None of the parties achieved the 326 seats needed for an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, won the largest number of votes and seats, but still fell 20 seats short. This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since the Second World War to return a hung parliament, the first being the February 1974 election. Unlike in 1974, the potential for a hung parliament had this time been widely considered and predicted, and both the country and politicians were better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result. The coalition government that was subsequently formed was the first coalition in British history to eventuate directly from an election outcome. The hung parliament came about in spite of the Conservatives managing both a higher vote total and higher share of the vote than the previous Labour government had done in 2005, when it secured a comfortable majority.
As the regulator of political party funding in the UK, the Commission's role is to ensure the integrity and transparency of party and election finance.
Political parties must submit annual statements of accounts, detailing income and expenditure, to the Electoral Commission. The Commission publishes these on its website. Political parties and regulated donees are required to submit reports of all donations they receive to the Commission. The Commission maintains a publicly available and searchable register of these donations on its website.
At general elections to the UK Parliament, EU Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly political parties are required to submit campaign spending returns to the Electoral Commission.
The Commission may impose financial civil penalties on political parties and their accounting units if they fail to submit donation and loans returns, campaign spending return or statements of account. The Commission also has the power to seek forfeiture of impermissible donations accepted by political parties.
The Commission registers political parties and regulates party compliance. The Commission maintains the registers of political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The commission produces guidance and gives advice on electoral registration to electoral registration officers in Great Britain. The commission has published performance standards for electoral registration in Great Britain. Electoral registration officers are required to report against these standards and the commission will make this information publicly available.
In the United Kingdom, an electoral registration officer (ERO) is a person who has the statutory duty to compile and maintain the electoral roll. Any expenses incurred by an electoral registration officer in the performance of his/her functions are paid by the local authority which made the appointment, except in Northern Ireland, where the Chief Electoral Officer's expenses are covered by the Northern Ireland Office.
Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.
As part of this work, the commission runs a series of public awareness campaigns ahead of elections and throughout the year to encourage people to register to vote. These focus on audiences that research indicates are less likely to be on the electoral register, including recent home-movers, students and UK citizens living overseas.
The commission produces guidance and gives advice on electoral administration to returning officers and electoral administrators in Great Britain. The Commission has set performance standards for returning officers and referendum counting officers in Great Britain. These standards do not apply to local government elections in Scotland as they are a devolved matter. The Commission has a statutory duty to produce reports on the administration of certain elections (for example UK Parliamentary general elections) and may be asked to report on other types of election (such as local government elections).
The commission is responsible for recommending which regions are allocated how many of the 73 seats that the United Kingdom holds at the European Parliament.
The Electoral Commission has a number of responsibilities in relation to referendums. These include:
As of 2017 the Electoral Commission has to date overseen the holding of two UK-wide referendums, the first was the 2011 AV Referendum and the second and most notable was the 2016 EU Referendum, on both occasions the then chair of the Electoral Commission Jenny Watson acted as the appointed Chief Counting Officer. The commission also oversaw the 2004 North East England Devolution Referendum, the 2011 Welsh Devolution Referendum and also the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. The commission has no legal position in the legislation concerning referendums proposed by the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.
From 1 October 2010, additional Commissioners serve on a part-time basis who are nominated by the leaders of political parties, scrutinised by the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission and approved by the House of Commons by means of an Address to the Queen requesting their appointment. Those nominated by the three largest parties serve terms of four years, while the Commissioner nominated by a smaller party serves for a two-year term. The appointments of nominated Commissioners are renewable once. These current Commissioners are:
To reflect the views of stakeholders and the distinctive procedures and practices in the countries of the United Kingdom there are separate electoral commissions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Since February 2007 the commission has also had regional offices across England in the South West, Eastern and South East, London, Midlands, and North of England regions.
The Electoral Commission is answerable to Parliament via the Speaker's Committee (established by PPERA 2000). The Commission must submit an annual estimate of income and expenditure to the Committee. The Committee, made up of Members of Parliament, is responsible for answering Parliamentary Questions on behalf of the Commission. The Member who takes questions for the Speaker's Committee is Bridget Phillipson.
The PPP is composed of representatives from all UK parliamentary political parties with two or more sitting MPs. The PPP was established by PPERA and meets quarterly to submit views to the Commission on matters affecting political parties.
There are equivalent non-statutory bodies for the devolved legislatures in Scotland (Scottish Parliament Political Parties Panel), Wales (Wales Political Parties Panel) and Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Assembly Parties Panel).
The commission conducts a wide variety of research into electoral administration, electoral registration and the integrity and transparency of party finance, and a variety of guidance materials for political parties, regulated donees and electoral administrators.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) is a political pressure group based in the United Kingdom which promotes electoral reform. It seeks to replace the first-past-the-post voting system with one of proportional representation, advocating the single transferable vote. It is the world's oldest operating organisation concerned with political and electoral reform.
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that sets out how political parties, elections and referendums are to be regulated in the United Kingdom. It formed an important part of the constitutional reform programme implemented by the 1997 Labour Government, building on the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 which was passed two years earlier.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is the independent federal agency in charge of organising, conducting and supervising federal elections, by-elections and referendums.
Election law is a discipline falling at the juncture of constitutional law and political science. It researches "the politics of law and the law of politics". The conceptual knowledge behind election law focuses on who votes, when that person can vote, and the construction behind the tabulated totals.
Elections in the United States are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the President, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective Governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages; as well as for special districts and school districts which may transcend county and municipal boundaries. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States as of 2012.
Regular elections in Croatia are mandated by the Constitution and legislation enacted by Parliament. The presidency, Parliament, county prefects and assemblies, city and town mayors, and city and municipal councils are all elective offices. Since 1990, five presidential elections have been held. During the same period, nine parliamentary elections were also held. In addition, there were six nationwide local elections. Croatia has held two elections to elect 11 members of the European Parliament following its accession to the EU on 1 July 2013.
Elections in Bhutan are conducted at national (Parliamentary) and local levels. Suffrage is universal for citizens 18 and over, and under applicable election laws. In national elections, political party participation is mainly restricted to the lower house of Parliament, and by extension, to the executive nominated by its majority.
Elections in Lithuania include elections and election results in the country of Lithuania.
The electoral roll is a list of persons who are eligible to vote in a particular electoral district and who are registered to vote, if required in a particular jurisdiction. An electoral roll has a number of functions, especially to streamline voting on election day. Voter registration is also used to combat electoral fraud by enabling authorities to verify an applicant's identity and entitlement to a vote, and to ensure a person doesn't vote multiple times. In jurisdictions where voting is compulsory, the electoral roll is used to indicate who has failed to vote. Most jurisdictions maintain permanent electoral rolls while some jurisdictions compile new electoral rolls before each election. In some jurisdictions, people to be selected for jury or other civil duties are chosen from an electoral roll.
The Electoral Commission is an independent Crown entity set up by the New Zealand Parliament. It is responsible for the administration of parliamentary elections and referenda, promoting compliance with electoral laws, servicing the work of the Representation Commission, and the provision of advice, reports and public education on electoral matters. The Commission also assists electoral agencies of other countries on a reciprocal basis with their electoral events.
A teller is a person who counts the votes in an election, vote, referendum or poll. Tellers are also known as scrutineers, poll-watchers, challengers or checkers.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is a nominally independent organisation which controls elections at all levels of Zimbabwe politics. It was established by an Act of the Parliament in 2004, with influence from its predecessor, the Electoral Supervisory Commission as well as the Southern African Development Community.
The Election Commission of Bangladesh, abbreviated EC, is an independent constitutional body of the nation of Bangladesh that operates the legal functions of Election law in Bangladesh.
Political funding in the United Kingdom has been a source of controversy for many years. Political parties in the UK may be funded through membership fees, party donations or through state funding, the latter of which is reserved for administrative costs. The general restrictions in the UK were held in Bowman v United Kingdom to be fully compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, article 10.
There are six types of elections in the United Kingdom: elections to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elections to devolved parliaments and assemblies, elections to the European Parliament, local elections, mayoral elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Within each of those categories, there may be by-elections as well as general elections. Elections are held on Election Day, which is conventionally a Thursday. Since the passing of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 for general elections, all six types of elections are held after fixed periods, though early elections to parliament and the devolved assemblies and parliaments can occur in certain situations. Currently, six electoral systems are used: the single member plurality system, the multi member plurality system, party-list proportional representation, the single transferable vote, the additional member system and the supplementary vote.
The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011(c. 1) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made provision for the holding of a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote system in all future general elections to the UK Parliament and also made provision on the number and size of Parliamentary Constituencies. The Bill for the Act was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010 and passed third reading on 2 November by 321 votes to 264. The House of Lords passed the Bill, with amendments, on 14 February 2011, and after some compromises between the two Houses on amendments, it received Royal Assent on 16 February.
The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which amended electoral law in the United Kingdom. It introduced Individual Electoral Registration (IER).
The European Union Referendum Act 2015(c. 36) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made legal provision for a pre-legislative referendum to be held in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar, on whether it should remain a member state of the European Union or leave it. The bill was introduced to the House of Commons by Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary on 28 May 2015. Two weeks later, the second reading of the Act was supported by MPs from all parties except the SNP; the Act subsequently passed on its third reading in the Commons on 7 September 2015 and was approved by the House of Lords on 14 December 2015, and given Royal Assent on 17 December 2015 and came partly into force on the same day and came into full legal force on 1 February 2016.
The European Union (Referendum) Act 2016 is an Act of the Gibraltar Parliament, which implements the United Kingdom's European Union Referendum Act 2015 in Gibraltar. It was the first time a referendum has been held in Gibraltar on the issue of continued EU membership since the territory joined along with the United Kingdom in 1973 and was the first time that a British Overseas Territory had participated in a UK-wide referendum. The Act commenced on 26 January 2016, and received assent from the Governor of Gibraltar on 28 January 2016.
Official investigations have revealed a range of unlawful campaigning in the 2016 EU referendum. These findings have led to extensive public debate and imposition of exceptional penalties. These developments have included the levying of the maximum fine possible on Facebook for breaches of data privacy; calls for changes in UK electoral law; and debate over the standing of the EU referendum result.