I’ve written often enough before about the problems with the “bonus” payments that Returning Officers receive for doing their job at election time. One problem is that they receive the bonuses in full even if they have messed up dreadfully, though that is now changing. The other is that the grounds for having the bonuses in the first place are pretty thin:
The role of being Returning Officer goes with having a job – typically council chief executive – that is usually well paid to begin with (often six figure salaries) and where anyone taking on the job knows that it will involve them being Returning Officer…
The idea that there is a special extra payment for running an election stretches back to a time when contested elections were far less frequent (fewer elected bodies and uncontested seats more common). When having to run an election was an unusual requirement, an extra payment made sense. Now that regularly running elections is the norm it looks a rather unsatisfactory arrangement.
It is therefore good news from Wales where:
Council chief executives would only be paid as returning officers for work they do outside their normal office hours under proposals from the Welsh government.
A white paper suggests ending so-called double funding for elections staff.
It would mean council officials cannot be paid for working as electoral officers while also being paid by their authorities.
The plans are contained in a consultation on a Local Democracy Bill.