John Turner, the Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators has told the BBC’s Danny Shaw of his concerns about the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. The force areas cross the council boundaries usually used for elections, will introduce a new supplementary vote system, and require a range of rules to be in place which have not yet been published, and there is a concern that the electoral register will be quite out of date at that time of year.
One key issue is how voters will get to know who is standing at the elections that cover whole force areas. Parliamentary elections provide candidates with free delivery of a leaflet through the mail. Other elections have involved official booklets provided to each household, which contain election addresses for each candidate, but so far there is no decision on this, despite it being critical in an election of which many people are unaware.
The concerns echo those expressed by Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, a few weeks ago.
In his speech to the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, many of whose members are also returning officers, he emphasised the need for the rules to be settled by May. Big concerns are campaign spending and whether free postage facilities or an election address booklet would be used. This is further confused by simultaneous elections for Mayors in some cities, and in these elections candidates will be able to pay a fee for their election address to be included in a booklet.
This speech also revealed that the move of the election from May to November was partly due to the Commission’s concerns about the law needing to be settled 6 months before the election, but this has separately caused the Commission concern about the state of the electoral register and the fact there are “half as many daylight hours on 15 November compared with early May and there is also the increased likelihood of inclement weather.”
The Home Office says it is confident the legislation will be in place by May, but has not yet resolved the other issues.