AV referendum: all households to be sent a booklet explaining the vote

Details of how the Electoral Commission proposes to administer next May’s referendum on the voting system (provided it passes Parliament) have emerged in a series of circulars issued by the Commission last week.

Electoral Commission logoSome of the details are likely to gain widespread welcome, including the extra anti-fraud step of requiring that 100% of postal votes are given extra security checks against original records (the law only requires a minimum of 20% and although many elections see 100% checking, not all do). Following the problems with long queues at over-sized or under-staffed polling stations at the general election, the Electoral Commission is also strongly encouraging a maximum of 2,500 electors per polling station and is also funding sensible staffing levels.

The referendum count will be carried out in the usual two stages for UK elections – a verification stage to check the number of ballot papers, which will have to be completed by 1pm on the Friday, with the counting of votes then starting at 4pm. The three hour gap is to allow councils, where there are also other elections being held at the same time, to complete those other counts before starting the referendum count if they wish.

The Electoral Commission is intending to distribute a booklet to all households with information about the referendum, including what first past the post and the alternative vote are, what happens in the event of a yes or no vote and the different ways of voting in the referendum (in person, by post or by proxy).

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This entry was posted in Election law and News.


  • This is a mammoth exercise for very little gain. A national referendum doesn’t happen very often. When it does, we should be taking the opportunity for a public vote on the range of choices. In my view, the public will resent the extravagance.

  • Tony Greaves 6th Dec '10 - 3:27pm

    So where do I find these circulars? I’ve looked in the EC website and wasted five minutes and can’t find them. That might be due to my incompetence at looking for things on the web but we are what we are.

    Why are links not put on articles like this?

    Tony Greaves

  • Scott Walker 7th Dec '10 - 12:05am

    This is excellent news. I’m a Lib Dem campaigner and candidate for the local election in a town where there’ll also be a mayoral referendum too. My worry has been how to divide up my campaigning time with all these issues, and that the public may need some support to understand the voting methods on offer. This will really help. For those who worry about the cost of this publication, just think of the money that has been saved by combining two or three votes on a single day.

  • Hywel Davies 7th Dec '10 - 12:20pm

    Any idea when these leaflets will be delivered? Sooner the better!

  • Nigel Quinton 7th Dec '10 - 4:49pm

    @RichardSM – if you think that signaling the end of FPTP is a “very little gain” I have to say I disagree with you wholeheartedly. AV may not be STV, but once the dam cracks FPTP will be gone from our lives very quickly, I believe. STV at council elections by 2013? Cannot see why not.

  • It’s now the 2nd of May, with the referendum due on the 5th, and no booklets have been distributed in Stone Staffordshire yet. Is this connected to Bill Cash being regularly elected to his “safe” Tory seat with votes from around a third of the electorate??

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