Time for the Electoral Commission to run local elections

Recent media coverage of the challenges facing local body elections, including people not receiving their voting papers and being told incorrectly that they are not eligible to vote, make it abundantly clear that the job of running our democracy should be given to the Electoral Commission.

The Green Party has a long-standing commitment to accessible democracy. We will be asking the Government to amend its Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill to ensure all future local elections are run by the Electoral Commission. 

“People’s right to have a say in how their community is run is sacred. It is absurd that governments have designed a system that forces councils to contract this most basic of human rights to a private company. The job of running our elections belongs to the Electoral Commission - and never before has that been clearer,” says the Green Party’s electoral reform spokesperson, Golriz Ghahraman. 

“I have been horrified by the stories this week about people not getting their voting papers in the mail and others being told incorrectly that they cannot vote. It is one of the effects of previous governments designing a system that has handed over the job of running elections to councils themselves, who more often than not contract the job to private companies.

“Democracy and local decision making is not a priority for these companies who are first and foremost focused on profit. That is why they are trying to get the most money for the least amount of work - and why they don’t know the rules. How this manifests itself is with voting papers not arriving in the mail and people being told incorrectly that they are not eligible to vote. 

“It is absolutely clear that we need local elections run by the independent crown entity the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission have experience running nationwide elections and get out the vote campaigns and are focussed on the public interest and not private profit.

“Giving the Electoral Commission responsibility for running our local election has been recommended three times in the last five years by MPs from all political parties on the Justice Select Committee. But still the government hasn’t done anything. Their argument is that it’s too difficult. But right now our local democracy is at stake. Anything that improves accessibility should be a priority. 

“The Green Party will continue to fight for a fair, accessible local democracy that is run in the interests of the public good. With more Green MPs in Parliament we can make this happen,” says Golriz Ghahraman. 

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