Skip to main content

Elections: Signatures

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the proposals for electors to provide a signature at polling stations will be introduced for the elections in May 2007; and, if not, what are the reasons. [HL788]

The Government have recently become aware of growing concern among electoral administrators about whether polling station officials would have the right to withhold a ballot paper from an elector who refused to provide a signature.

After careful consideration of the relevant provision in the Electoral Administration Act 2006, the Government agree that the lack of a clear sanction for a polling station official to withhold a ballot paper in these circumstances may give rise to confusion, inconsistency of practice, and potential legal challenge. Accordingly, the Government have decided not to commence signing at a polling station until such a sanction can be brought forward. As such a sanction will require primary legislation, it will not be practicable to commence signing at a polling station for elections scheduled for May 2007.

The Electoral Commission, which has a key role in providing returning officers and electoral administrators with advice and guidance has been formally advised that legislation for signing at a polling station will not be commenced for 3 May 2007 and, therefore, no request of signatures from electors in polling stations should be made until further notice.