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Electoral Administration

Volume 459: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

22. What plans the Electoral Commission has to exercise the powers given to it under the Electoral Administration Act 2006 to set and monitor performance standards in electoral services. (131443)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it is developing performance standards for electoral services. It is intended that the standards for electoral registration will be set in early 2008 and that the standards for elections will be in place for 2009.

I am grateful for that answer, but how can we ensure that during the current elections, pending the new performance standards, no electoral returning officer will make perverse decisions that are possibly against the law?

The commission informs me that it has no powers to compel performance improvement. Its powers are restricted to setting the standards and requesting information in order to measure performance against the standards. To put that in context, the Audit Commission has no powers to enforce particular regulations on local authorities; it does it by example. The Electoral Commission feels that it has sufficient authority to raise standards among electoral registration officers.