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Election reform proposals go to stage 1 consultation

20 September 2019

Views of the public are being invited on the bill that would extend to five years the time between elections to both the Scottish Parliament and Scottish local authorities.

The proposal is the headline feature of the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill,promoted by the Scottish Government, and now being examined by Holyrood's Standards, Procedures & Public Appointments Committee.

Other main proposals include:

  • giving greater flexibility to set the size of all council wards by allowing for two or five member wards, as well as three and four member wards (one member wards will continue only to be possible in island communities);
  • restricting electors to voting in only one local authority area in Scotland at local government elections held on the same day;
  • facilitating pilot schemes for electronic voting or other digital processing;
  • allowing people to apply to be added to the electoral register from age 14;
  • allowing the Presiding Officer to reschedule a poll for a Scottish general election in certain circumstances after dissolution, in consultation with the Electoral Commission;
  • various reforms in relation to the Electoral Commission, to support the use of the new powers relating to elections devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act 2016, and the issuing of codes of practice to help candidates, campaigners, observers and on matters such as expenses and donations at devolved elections;
  • extending the functions of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland to cover Scottish parliamentary elections;
  • Changes to the way the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland carries out its work.

Committee convener Bill Kidd MSP commented: “These proposals would permanently change the way national and local elections are run in Scotland. The way elections are run are one of the cornerstones of our civic life, so it is important that any changes have a positive and meaningful impact.

“The bill proposals would allow young people to be added to the electoral register from 14 and we particularly want to hear from young people about what this change would mean to them and what impact this would have on their access to democracy.”

Click here for information on the bill and to access the call for evidence. The deadline for responses is 7 November 2019.


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