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The Elections Bill was introduced by the Government in the House of Commons on 5 July 2021. The bill would make changes to election laws, including:

  • Requiring voters in UK parliamentary elections and local elections in England to produce photo ID at polling stations in order to vote.
  • Introducing measures to prevent postal vote harvesting, the process by which someone collects and hands in multiple completed postal ballot packs to a polling station.
  • Removing the 15-year time limit for overseas voters being able to vote in UK parliamentary elections.
  • Removing automatic voting rights for some EU citizens in local elections in England.
  • Enabling the Government to designate a strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission and preventing the Electoral Commission from bringing criminal prosecutions.
  • Changing the rules on campaign expenditure, the activities of third-party campaigners and joint campaigning.
  • Requiring digital campaign material to include a digital imprint with information on who produced the material

The Government has argued the bill would strengthen UK democracy. The Opposition has argued that the new voter ID requirements would reduce turnout, especially amongst people who do not already have access to photo ID. The Opposition has criticised other provisions in the bill, including those concerning oversight of the Electoral Commission. The Opposition has argued the bill would damage the commission’s independence.

The Government tabled several amendments to the bill at committee stage and report stage in the House of Commons. This included an amendment passed at committee stage to change the voting system for elections for police and crime commissioners, elected mayors of local authorities and combined authority areas in England and elections for the Mayor of London. Under the bill as amended these elections would be conducted using the simple majority vote system, also known as ‘first past the post’ instead of the supplementary vote system”.

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