The Representation of the People Act 2000 permits trials for new voting systems such as electronic voting, online voting and mobile phone voting.
Power to order voting trials
Trials may be proposed by local authorities, and permitted “by order” of the Secretary of State. They can trial changes to:
- (a) when, where and how voting at the elections is to take place;
- (b) how the votes cast at the elections are to be counted;
- (c) the sending by candidates of election communications free of charge for postage.
- (a) for voting to take place on more than one day (whether each of those days is designated as a day of the poll or otherwise) and at places other than polling stations,
- (b) for postal charges incurred in respect of the sending of candidates’ election communications as mentioned in subsection (2)(c) to be paid by the authority concerned
Electoral Commission report
The Act requires that the Electoral Commission write reports on the trials, covering
an assessment of the scheme’s success or otherwise in facilitating—
- (i) voting at the elections in question, and
- (ii) (if it made provision as respects the counting of votes cast at those elections) the counting of votes,or in encouraging voting at the elections in question or enabling voters to make informed decisions at those elections.
and other impacts, including whether:
- (a) the turnout of voters was higher than it would have been if the scheme had not applied;
- (b) voters found the procedures provided for their assistance by the scheme easy to use;
- (c) the procedures provided for by the scheme led to any increase in personation or other electoral offences or in any other malpractice in connection with elections;
- (d) those procedures led to any increase in expenditure, or to any savings, by the authority.
From April 2018, the National Assembly for Wales inherits the Act’s powers to run trials.
The Wales Act 2017 reserves certain powers to the UK Parliament, meaning that many or most areas of legislation and powers move to the Welsh Assembly and its government. As a result, local elections become a Welsh matter.
The Assembly is also given powers to amend its methods of election and composition, but these require a super-majority.