Headlines: December 13th, 2004

Local authorities want assurances from the government that funding for running elections will not be ring fenced. The Local Government Association is calling for councils to have flexibility as part of its response to the Electoral Commission report “Voting for Change”.The LGA wants more commitment from government to modernising the electoral process, making it safe and secure and to give voters options on how they cast their ballot. It is also concerned about the prospect of all postal ballots and about what it fears may be the government’s lack of commitment to funding electoral services. The LGA says authorities must have the flexibility to run local elections without the restrictions of ring fencing that would fail to take local circumstances into account.

The Association has welcomed moves to modernise the electoral system to engage as many people as possible in the electoral process but it says making it easier for people to vote is only part of the solution and that it is also important that politicians give people a clear cause for which to vote.

It is urging government to commit to the Commission’s recommendations on individual voter registration when it published its strategy for electoral modernisation. The LGA believes individual registration is the key to a safe and secure modern electoral process.

The chairman of the LGA Board, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said individual registration should mean that everyone could register to vote and be able to cast their ballot in confidence electronically, by post or at a polling station.

He added, “The LGA strongly supports the Commission’s advice that all postal ballots should not be pursued as an option at statutory UK elections. We are extremely disappointed that Government is still looking to pursue this as an option for local government elections.”