Good to see that the Daily Post has picked up on the need for urgent action to enable bilingual ballot papers – see Daily Post 14th September 2012
There has been lots of coverage of the problems with this election, summarised by the Electoral Reform Society as “How Not to Run an Election“. And this was before the latest debacle and this week’s report from the Electoral Commission.
Ensuring that all voters have basic information about each of the candidates standing was raised by police authorities on a cross-party basis two years ago and there has been a strong consensus on this ever since, involving everyone apart from the UK Government.
They argued at the time that it would cost too much. But the Electoral Commission is going to send a booklet to every household anyway – so the additional costs is for the additional bits of paper. Once again, tried and tested methods have been thrown aside by Ministers who are convinced that they know best and don’t want to listen to experts. In the Mayoral elections which have taken place in England, candidates pay the cost of the additional pages in the booklet – so there is no cost to the public purse.
As the Electoral Commission say, they explained to Ministers a year ago how to get this right but Ministers didn’t listen. It may be too late to change this booklet as it will be nationally produced, but it is still possible to include a couple of sides of A4 with the poll cards and postal votes sent out by Returning Officers and available at polling stations. Given that parliament is going to have to look again at the issue in order to enable bilingual ballot papers, there is a last chance to get this one right too.