The Electoral Commission has published their response to draft secondary legislation from the Government, which gives the game away about how the government plans to deal with the problem of people not knowing what the Police and Crime Commissioner elections are all about or who is standing in their area. (A briefing is also available)
The Commission has been pushing for a free postal drop of leaflets for candidates, or for a booklet to be produced and distributed in each area with details from each candidate, which we’ve covered before, here and here, he says in an I-told-you-so fashion.
Instead, the Government proposes setting up a website to collect together Candidate details nationally and make them available to the public, sometime in October or November, with a print on demand service for those without t’internet. Er, hello?- we’re way ahead of you with this site you are now reading, and it hasn’t cost the taxpayer a penny. And as for print on demand – ask a friend who has the Internet about TopOfTheCops.com – it’s a Big Society after all!
Though if you’re interested, Nick, er, Mr Herbert, I’m open to very high offers. I mean, I do have a minor Apple-products addiction, and having tremendous sums of money for this here domain might help me deal with my guilt when I buy them….later today.
Anyway – in case the government is penny-pinching on the whole booklets-to-households issue, the Commission has reminded the Government that Parliament gave the Commission responsibility under clause 53 of the Act that sets up the Commissioners to “‘take such steps as it considers appropriate’ to raise public awareness for PCC elections”, and the Commission thinks it is appropriate for the Commission to print and issue a booklet to every household.
Perhaps the Commission is already happy with the TopOfTheCops.com that we have?
They are not, however, happy with the Government – check this out about the 30 remaining Parliamentary days before it’s six-months before the election “any further delay by the Government in finalising the draft secondary legislation would pose an increasing risk to our ability to provide timely and accurate guidance on the rules for the first PCC elections to campaigners and electoral administrators“.
They also point out that two different departments are arranging elections on the same day and appear to be using different mechanisms. These are Home Office/PCC elections/website and Communities/Mayoral elections/booklets. They didn’t say, but I will add, that it is the Communities lot that are used to dealing with elections.
For the record, the Association of Electoral Administrators are not chuffed either, and in case you are chastising yourself for missing something, my search of draft Statutory Instruments at legislation.gov.uk (where this stuff is supposed to be) drew a blank many times.
Is this website thing just an idea being floated? Err, no. The Commission says “While we have made clear from an early stage that we do not believe the approach being taken is the right one, we understand from the Government that they are unlikely to significantly change their plans and have therefore focussed on how they can be improved.“
There’s lots more in the sometimes lengthy documents linked in this article, but I have a wacky idea I’m willing to share with you. Why don’t you Candidates reading this join with me in an “All in this together” kind of way, and make TopOfTheCops.com, which has already actually started, and which is free, the go-to website for finding out about candidates, and save the government the cost and bother of commissioning some techies to do it for them. And why don’t the Electoral Commission, administrators and the government get together to deliver just the one booklet to each household, with details about the election, the voting system, and the candidates who are standing in each area?