UK’s electoral law out-of-date, report suggests

A new report published by the Law Commissions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland has criticised the UK’s electoral law as out-of-date and calls for regulations to be replaced with more modern and rational legal framework.

The reports recommends that the government should rationalise the laws regarding elections into a single, consistent legislative framework governing all elections and referendums.

Currently electoral law remains a complex and fragmented process, divided across 17 major statutes and some 30 sets of regulations. Nicholas Paines QC law commissioner for public law, who led the project, claimed that simplifying the laws would make them ‘more easily understood and used by administrators and candidates’.

He said: “Elections are fundamental to democracy. They are the mechanism by which citizens exercise their democratic rights. The price we pay as a democracy when the electoral process loses credibility is high and potentially catastrophic.

“Electoral law must be simplified, modernised and rationalised so that it can be more easily understood and used by administrators and candidates, and the public can have more certainty as to their rights.

“The law must be set out in such a way that policy development by government, once properly scrutinised by Parliament, can be achieved by one legislative change, rather than a dozen spread out across several years.

“We are pleased to make these recommendations for reform and are hopeful that this opportunity to make electoral law more principled and efficient will be taken forward.”