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Electoral Administration Act 2006

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Electoral Administration Act received Royal Assent on 11 July 2006. The Act aims to tackle four areas at the core of a healthy democracy by improving access, improving confidence, extending openness and transparency of party financing and maintaining professional delivery of elections. A third of the Act was commenced in September 2006. This second commencement order commences the vast majority of the remaining provisions within the Electoral Administration Act, including:

late registration;

anonymous registration;

introduction of new personal identifiers to absent voters;

regulation of loans and donations; and

handling of election documents.

These provisions, while coming into force on 1 January 2007, will not apply to any elections between 1 January 2007 and 3 May 2007.

Provisions relating to anonymous registration and observers, while commenced from 1 January 2007, will not take effect until June 2007 and 31 January 2007 respectively.

The only sections that will not be commenced relate to:

remaining provisions relating to core;

provision of signatures in polling stations;

reporting donations to include details of the nature of donation; and

regulation of loans to Northern Ireland etc.

The Government are committed to improving access and engagement in the democratic process. Increased registration is one way to achieve this. Some 3.5 million people entitled to vote are not registered. We have therefore commenced provisions that allow anonymous registration for a person who believes that having their name and address on the register would put at risk the safety of themselves, or others in their household. In addition, people will now be able to register 11 days before the poll, whereas in the past the deadline was between six and eight weeks before the poll.

We have also brought into force a requirement for all persons applying to vote by post or proxy to provide their signature and date of birth. At elections, postal voters must provide these identifiers on their postal voting statement when they cast their vote. The Government believe this, along with the introduction of new election offences, represents a comprehensive set of legislative changes that will improve confidence in the electoral system.