Watchdog rules out all-postal ballot for May’s elections, MPs told

Significant practical challenges would face such a system, it was claimed.

Ballot papers (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Ballot papers (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Proposals for an all-postal ballot for May’s elections have been ruled out.

MPs heard the Electoral Commission believes there would be “significant practical challenges” facing such a system and it would not be able to collect information for key security checks in the time available.

The UK Government believes the elections in England, which include local and mayoral contests, should go ahead although it is keeping the situation under review due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In-person voting and postal voting are currently options for those willing to take part.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Labour’s Wes Streeting (Ilford North) asked: “Has the Electoral Commission looked at the possibility of having all-postal ballots or, failing that, to at least provide households with postal vote application forms and a freepost return service so that anyone who wants to vote in May’s elections, as everyone should, is able to do so safely without any financial barriers?”

A Post Office post box  (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A Post Office post box (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Labour’s Christian Matheson (City of Chester), speaking on behalf of the Commission in the Commons, said: “The commission has highlighted that there would be significant practical challenges in delivering an all-postal election in May.

“In particular, collecting personal identifiers from all eligible electors, which is a key part of important security checks, is not practicable in the time available.

“The commission considers that where possible voters should be able to choose how they wish to cast their vote, including having the option to do so in person.

“They will make available all options to proceed as safely as possible for elections in May.

“Whether the elections continue in May is a matter for the UK Government and the governments in the devolved administrations.”

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