The Electoral Commission has called on the Government to change the law so that voters are never again refused the opportunity to cast their vote, as happened at some polling stations during the last general election.

The Commission is continuing to urge the Government to accept an amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill (ERA) during its Committee Stages in the Lords. The Commission welcomes the Lords Constitution Committee report, published today, in which it agrees the amendment is necessary for all elections in the UK to allow voters already inside, or queuing to enter, a polling station as the poll closes at ten pm to be issued with a ballot paper so they can still cast their vote.

The Commission recommended this important change following the high-profile problems of queues at some polling stations at the 2010 UK Parliamentary general election which prevented more than 1,200 people from casting their votes.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission says ‘In 2010 some voters waiting in queues at polling stations were unable to cast their vote. Good planning can go some way to prevent this from happening again, but it is not enough on its own. Even the best laid plans can go awry. This simple amendment to the law provides the solution to that problem.’

The Scottish Government changed legislation for the May 2012 Scottish local government elections to implement our recommendation. For the first time at any UK election, three people who arrived at their polling stations before the close of poll on 3 May but had not been issued with a ballot paper by 10pm were able to vote because of this change.

Jenny Watson adds ‘There is no good reason for not doing this. It’s a simple change that will provide an important safeguard for all electors, without adding to the administrative burden of those running elections.’

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