Electoral registration law so complicated even Electoral Commission gets it wrong

A great example of why Britain’s electoral law is in need of a thorough consolidation and simplification comes with the latest Electoral Commission bulletin:

In the course of developing guidance to support the recent legislative changes relating to the publication of additional interim election notices of alteration, we have identified an issue relating to the deadline for registration applications in advance of an election. In summary, the work undertaken by the Commission and the Cabinet Office has identified that the effect of Section 13B(2) and (3) of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended) taken with Regulation 29(4) of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 (as amended) is that the last date for making an application for registration before an election is twelve working days before the election, rather than eleven…

For elections or referendums where the notice of election (or referendum) has already been published and voters have been informed that the deadline is on a specific day (that is, E-11), the final decision on what approach to take will rest with the ERO in each case. However, as such voters will have a reasonable expectation that this deadline would not change, EROs will need to consider how to manage the risk of potentially disenfranchising any potential voters who may make an application on the last notified date for registration.

Or in short: “Oh bugger. The advice we gave on an important election deadline is wrong. If you’re currently running an election using the wrong advice good luck. Hope no-one sues you.”

Meanwhile, the suppliers of election management software are having to update their systems so that they can cope properly with the new deadline.

Ah, happy memories of 2001 when electoral register deadlines for the then general election were similarly messed up…

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