Government has “resoundingly failed” to take action on threats to UK electoral system

Speaking at the Institute for Government on the 6th November, Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said that the electoral system is at risk from a range of factors, including Russian meddling on social media and local council cuts.

Responding, Director of Unlock Democracy Alexandra Runswick said:

“Free and fair elections are the very foundations of our democracy. If this is in peril, then so too is our democracy. Scandal after scandal is allowed to bloom, but strong words from the government are continually followed by inaction. Despite having been in government for seven years, the Conservatives have resoundingly failed to act on calls from the Electoral Commission itself for more investigative powers. The solutions are out there, and the onus is on the government to listen, take action, and protect our democracy.

“Electoral law needs an overhaul so that it is fit for purpose. The proliferation of social media in the latest general election exposed the urgent need to update our woefully inadequate rules around spending. Sir John Holmes and the Electoral Commission are right to be concerned about issues like Russian interference in social media and the impact of cuts to local councils. However, given how scandals in recent memory around election expenses have gone unresolved, it would make sense for this to be the starting point for reform. Despite both the Criminal Prosecution and the Electoral Commission concluding that there were serious wrongdoings in the 2015 general election, to date there has been no movement on reforming the system to prevent such abuses taking place again. If breaking electoral law becomes a price worth paying, then the very foundations of our democracy are in peril.”