Elections Act

May 23rd, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

The Elections Act 2022 has 7 Parts and 12 Schedules. Part 1 relates to administration and conduct of elections.  It includes provisions on voter identification, postal and proxy voting, undue influence, assistance with voting for persons with disabilities.  Part 2 relates to overseas electors and EU citizens, Part 3 to the Electoral Commission, Part 4 to regulation of expenditure, Part 5 to disqualification, and Part 6 on information to be included with electronic material. Part 7 is General.

 

Voter Identification

April 27th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

The appeal in R (Coughlan) v Minister for the Cabinet Office (2022) UKSC 11 concerned a challenge brought by Mr Coughlan to orders made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office in respect of Braintree District Council and nine other local authorities (“the Pilot Orders”). These Pilot Orders authorised schemes to temporarily change the rules set out in secondary legislation governing local elections. These schemes, which were implemented in ten local authority areas in respect of the local government elections in May 2019, each introduced a new requirement for some form of voter identification for those local elections.

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Voter Identification

June 8th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

In Coughlan v Minister for the Cabinet Office (2020) EWCA 723 the Court of Appeal upholds the dismissal of a challenge to the lawfulness of a pilot scheme to require voters in certain local authority areas to produce identification documentation as a pre-condition to obtain a ballot paper to enable them to vote. The scheme was under Section 10(2)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 2000. This was a permissible restriction, not on the right to vote, but on “how” voting is to take place. “How” is a broad and general concept and covers an experimental scheme requiring identification at the polling station to demonstrate that entitlement.

 

Public Health Emergency

April 7th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

Following on the Elections scheduled for 7 May this year being postponed by 12 months until 6 May next year, the Local Government (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) ( England and Wales) Regulations 2020, S.I. 2020/395, pursuant to Sections 61 and 63 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, contain detailed provisions that specified local elections and referendums that would otherwise be required before 5 May 2021 are postponed until 6 May 2021. The specified local elections are those to fill “casual vacancies” in local authority and other bodies, including “local by-elections” under Section 89 of the Local Government Act 1972. The specified referendums include those relating to governance changes and neighbourhood planning.

 

Election Petition

March 24th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

On the dissolution of Parliament, a Parliamentary Bye-Election Petition does not abate, with the Court having no jurisdiction with regard to costs. Rather, it can be withdrawn, with the leave of the Court, upon the petitioner paying the respondent’s costs. So held in GREENE v FORBES (2020) EWHC 676 (QB).

 

Election Expenses

February 28th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

The primary purpose of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) Order2020, S.I. 2020/190, is to provide that “election expenses” are not to count towards a candidate’s spending limit to the extent that they are reasonably incurred and reasonably attributable to a candidate’s disability.

 

Welsh Electoral Reform

February 4th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

The Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government has announced on 3 February 2020 an “ Electoral Reform Support Grant “ to be made available to all Welsh local authority Electoral Services teams. This is to support their work in implementing both recent and forthcoming electoral reform in Wales. It is in order to assist these teams with the pressures associated with the extension of the franchise, canvass reform and other Welsh electoral reform. It is in particular to support local authorities with registering newly enfranchised individuals. The extensions include by lowering the voting age to 16 and extending the franchise to qualifying foreign citizens.

 

Expenses Incurred

September 19th, 2019 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

In R (Good Law Project) v Electoral Commission (2019) EWCA Civ 1567 the Court of Appeal was concerned with the interpretation of the phrase “expenses incurred”, which is to be found throughout election legislation, and dates from the middle of the nineteenth century. The Court observed, at paragraph 82, that it did not appear to have caused any great difficulty in practice.  The Court referred, at paragraph 83, to the Cockermouth Division case (1901) 5 O’M v H 155, and said:-

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Election Timetable

April 4th, 2019 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

MHCLG has updated its “Election timetable in England”, setting out how often different types of local authority in England hold elections for their councillors, subject to boundary changes, and its Guidance on “Local government structure and elections”, providing information on the different types of council in England and their electoral arrangements.

 

 

Voter ID pilots for local elections

March 21st, 2019 by James Goudie QC in Elections and Bylaws

R (Coughlan) v Minister for the Cabinet Office, Braintree District Council Interested Party (2019) EWHC 641 (Admin) concerns a decision to introduce pilot schemes to require voters to present either one form of photo ID or up to two forms of non-photo ID. Whether the decision was lawful turns on the proper interpretation of Section 10 in Part II of the Representation of the People Act 2000 (“the 2000 Act”). This empowers Orders in respect of approved pilot schemes for voting in local government elections. In essence, the central question is whether the voter ID pilots are schemes within the meaning and scope of Section 10(2)(a), that is whether they are schemes for testing “how voting … is to take place”.  Supperstone J rejected the challenge. He was satisfied (paragraph 75) that the Section 10(1) power was intended to allow proposed changes to local government electoral procedures from time to time existing to be tested.  He continued that he agreed with the following points:-

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