Marked registers lost, votes counted up wrongly – but Returning Officer judged to have met performance standards

My original headline was going to be “One-third of (Acting) Returning Officers assess their own performance wrongly”, but the more closely I look at the latest Returning Officer performance data from the Electoral Commission, the worse it looks.

A sample survey by the Electoral Commission of the performance self-assessment exercise by (Acting) Returning Officers found that 33 out of 100 had assessed their own performance wrongly. The findings, detailed in the Commission’s report on the latest performance standards (p.6-7), call into question how useful the assessment system really is.

But even worse than this headline figure, in Wolverhampton the Returning Officer comes out as having met all the performance standards save for the one on accessibility of information to electors, despite it turning out that parts of the marked registers from two different Wolverhampton constituencies were lost and the votes in one of those constituencies, Wolverhampton South West, were counted wrongly (with the numbers still not adding up even after a post-election investigation).

The Electoral Commission is promising to be more active in enforcing standards next year:

Electoral Commission logoWe will be providing clear instructions and guidance that set out the plans and processes that those running the polls next year need to have in place well in advance.  And rather than assessing performance after the polls, we’ll be actively monitoring it during planning to catch any problems before they affect voters.

However, the widespread problems with self-assessment and the assessment given to Wolverhampton raises serious doubts about the structure and purpose of the system which the Electoral Commission is promising to enforce more rigorously.

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This entry was posted in Election law and News.


  • david thorpe 8th Dec '10 - 2:57pm

    as I understand it, our GLA list election results announcemnet is being held up because of a compaliant perhaps we should worry about our own house at the moment

  • Ruth Bright 8th Dec '10 - 3:10pm

    Don’t we have self-assessment of Returning Officers in the Lib Dems too or has that changed?

    When I complained in 2007 that a Returning Officer had acted in a discriminatory way in a PPC selection he investigated himself and found he had done just fine!

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