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House of Commons Hansard
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Electoral Returning Officers
26 October 2017
Volume 630
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9. What assessment has been made of the availability of electoral returning officers. [901433]

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The Electoral Commission provides guidance for returning officers, and it monitors and reports on their performance. The commission targets monitoring and support on areas where it is needed, including where there is a change of returning officer or a change in the electoral services team. The commission will publish its report on the administration of the 2017 general election and the performance of returning officers in November.

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A shortage of trained returning officers was identified as one of the contributing factors to 6,500 votes being missed out on the declaration for my seat and to 1,926 postal votes not being sent out. What further action can be taken to train more returning officers?

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My hon. Friend will be aware that the returning officer for Plymouth commissioned an independent review, led by Dr Dave Smith. The investigation reported in September. The Electoral Commission fully supported the investigation and continues to support the city council in delivering the improvements required.

The Electoral Commission is working with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Association of Electoral Administrators on the issue of the decreasing number of election and registration specialists.

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Does the hon. Lady know whether returning officers have commented on the fact that people voted in more than one parliamentary constituency at the last general election? Do they have a view on supporting my private Member’s Bill, which would allow electors to be registered in only one parliamentary seat?

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The hon. Gentleman will know that in certain circumstances it is possible for someone, including a Member of Parliament, to be lawfully registered to vote in more than one place. The Electoral Commission takes very seriously any claim that individuals voted twice. The Minister with responsibility for the constitution, the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, the hon. Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore), has informed the House that police forces are investigating several allegations. The commission urges anyone who has evidence of such individuals to take those allegations to the relevant police force.

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We are out of time, but we should hear the question of Mr Christian Matheson.