Concerns about Covid-19 did not stop voters from taking part in elections earlier this year, according to reports published today. Research and analysis from the Electoral Commission shows that there was no decline in turnout across Great Britain, compared to previous years, despite the pandemic.
May’s elections in England, Scotland and Wales were one of the most complex sets of polls held in recent times, with the additional challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The evidence shows that changes put in place by the UK’s governments, the Commission and electoral administrators helped to support and reassure voters and campaigners. People were confident that they could vote safely at the elections, and the overwhelming majority were able to vote using their preferred method.
Overall, candidates and campaigners were able to successfully put their case to voters face-to-face, online and through printed material, even though some restrictions remained in place during the campaign.
Ailsa Irvine, Director of Electoral Administration and Guidance, Electoral Commission, said:
“This year’s elections in England, Scotland and Wales took place in unique and challenging circumstances. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the electoral community across Great Britain, the polls were delivered safely and successfully.”
While voter confidence in elections remains high, the experience of these polls has highlighted continued concerns about the resilience and capacity of local electoral services teams across Great Britain.
Those running elections faced considerable challenges securing polling station venues, and finding and training staff to work on polling day. Changes to legislation during the months leading up to the polls, while unprecedented and unavoidable in the circumstances, created additional risks and added to the existing challenge of delivering elections within an outdated and increasingly complex legal framework.
Ailsa Irvine added:
“Our reports once again highlight evidence that our electoral system is operating under strain, and this continues to pose significant challenges for the delivery of well-run elections. Further legislative changes are expected in the coming years, and these will necessarily increase the expectations and workload on already stretched teams of electoral administrators.
“It is vital that these services are properly supported and resourced, so that voters can continue to receive the help they need to register and vote. For our part, we will work in partnership with the electoral community, including the Government and local authorities, to develop and deliver proposals to build more resilient electoral services for the future.”