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Review of Elections 2 May 2019

Meeting: 24/07/2019 - Civic Affairs (Item 24)

24 Review of Elections 2 May 2019 pdf icon PDF 405 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Chief Executive.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  The Elections Team had to organise 23 May European election with just 6 weeks’ notice. They had done a good job under the circumstances. Councillors queried how the situation could be handled in future if a general election occurred at short notice.

  ii.  The Officer’s report suggested some issues were within the City Council’s control and some were not. For example, the Central Government website omitted key election information for (non-UK) EU citizens.

  iii.  An unreliable postal system led to issues affecting the return of forms.

  iv.  Email filters may block messages so bulk email was not a reliable method of communication (instead of hard copies by mail). Given the short timescales involved, coupled with a need to communicate quickly the decision was taken to e-mail those electors where an e-mail address was held and to send letters to the remainder. As referenced in ‘lessons learnt’ there was a need to check emails had been received.

 

The Electoral Services Managersaid the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  All forms said a clear/legible scanned image could be returned by email instead of sending hard copies by post and this would be highlighted at future polls.

  ii.  Some forms were received after the response deadline although people had paid a premium for next day delivery.

  iii.  Council Officers would liaise in future with the Royal Mail about the issues experienced.

  iv.  If people received no response from the City Council about a submitted application form, it was recommended they follow up to ensure it had been received. This would be promoted in future.

  v.  The City Council had responded to all complaints from EU nationals who were unable to  vote in the European election.

  vi.  Expressed concern that development of European elector application forms (UC1’s) by IDOX delayed the issue of information to EU citizens.

 

The Chief Executive made the following points:

  i.  Various local authorities had been affected by the IDOX development issue when the company needed to do a system upgrade.

  ii.  The Elections Team had processes to mitigate short notice election issues as much as possible.

  iii.  The City Council enjoyed good and flexible relationship with polling stations so buildings could generally be used when needed.

  iv.  The City Council would run elections on existing ward boundaries until they  changed in May in 2020.

 

The Democratic Services Manager said following the review of ward boundaries by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, a review of polling districts would be carried out during summer/autumn 2019. A (delayed) six-week consultation began on 16 July. Details would be updated on the City Council website.

 

Unanimously resolved:

  i.  To note the Officer’s report and provide feedback to the Returning Officer on issues the Committee would like to be considered in the management of future polls.

  ii.  That the Returning Officer sends this report to the Cabinet Office and the Electoral Commission highlighting the issues experienced by EU electors in Cambridge in connection to EU Parliamentary elections on 23 May.