Credit: Mary and Angus Hogg

Calls for government to provide clarity over potential delay to May elections

By Ollie Rudden

ERS says ministers must set out plans for ensuring democracy can take place safely and securely urge amongst conflicting reports on the status of May’s election.

Calls have been made to provide clarity over potential delays to the upcoming elections this year.

The Electoral Reform Society says that conflicting reports on the status of May’s elections have left voters in the dark about plans for May’s polls, with Conservative figures in London hinting that delaying elections are likely, despite official advice that plans remain unchanged but “under review”.

The calls come as electoral experts say the UK “still isn’t ready” to hold elections under current Covid-19 conditions. The Labour Party have also called on the UK government to ensure that polls are Covid-secure and safe for both voters and electoral administrators. 

Dr Jessica Garland, director of policy and research at ERS, said in a statement: “The government needs to provide urgent clarity to voters and electoral administrators on the May elections. The public deserves openness and transparency over how any decision over a delay will be made. The current stream of confusing reports damages planning and public trust in the process.

“Over 100 elections have taken place worldwide since the pandemic began, including by-elections in Scotland. With the vaccine now being rolled-out, we should be doing everything we can to make sure elections take place fairly and safely.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon recently said she saw “no reason” to postpone the upcoming Scottish parliamentary elections despite fears of uncertain Covid-19 rates and the possibility of the electoral system struggling to cope with a possibly high number of postal ballots.

Professor John Curtice, a politics professor at the University of Strathclyde, recently predicted that the Scottish parliamentary elections could be delayed if elections elsewhere in the UK were also delayed, under a “coordinated” UK wide agreement for holding elections.

The Scottish parliamentary elections are currently set to take place on Thursday 6 May this year, alongside elections for the Welsh parliament, Mayor of London, London assembly, as well as a number of local councils and police and crime commissioners across England and Wales, many of which were originally planned to take place last May.


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