Agenda item

Electoral Services Update

To receive an update from the Head of Electoral Services, including reference to voter behaviour in May 2022 and the Parliamentary Boundary review 2023.


The following were in attendance for this item:


Cllr D Coupar  - Executive Member

John Mulcahy   - Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory

Susanna Benton   - Head of Electoral Services


John Mulcahy and Susanna Benton presented a paper to the Scrutiny Board summarising voter behaviour in the May 2022 local elections and the progress of the Parliamentary Boundary Review 2023.


Susanna confirmed that in May 2022 the number of postal voters in Leeds was 186,367, which equates to 31.87% of the electorate. 62.27% of all votes received were cast were via post and it is anticipated this trend in voting behaviour will be a long-lasting legacy of arrangements put in place during the covid-19 pandemic.


Susanna highlighted the actions taken to address the number of postal votes rejected from the number returned, noting a decrease from 3.22% in May 2021 to 2.11% in May 2022. This included introducing a second manual check of rejected postal votes.


It was noted that given the change in voter behaviour the number of polling stations required, and the location of those polling stations, will remain under review.


Members requested further information about any anticipated reductions in the number of polling stations in Leeds. In response officers noted that significant reductions are not anticipated given changes that were previously implemented during the pandemic period.


Members sought clarification about why some wards record a higher number of rejected postal votes than others. In response officers advised members that they have identified some errors occurring in homes where multiple people are registered to vote – and in such cases they advise those individuals that this has been the reason for a rejection.


The Head of Electoral Services agreed to review the wording contained in voter packs that sets out the options for depositing a postal vote at a polling station.


Members of the Board queried whether further information could be included in the packs provided to postal voters to assist in instances where language barriers may create a disincentive to vote.


The Board discussed the accessibility of electoral services for residents who need to collect a replacement pack in cases where their voting pack has not been delivered.


Members requested further information about the support provided to those voters with visual impairments and those in care settings. It was noted that tactile devices are already available in polling stations.


It was noted that the Elections Act will require a higher level of support to be provided in future to those who may require assistance to cast their vote.


The benefit of information services provided via third sector organisations such as RNIB were discussed.


Concern was expressed about proposals for new constituency boundaries set out by the Boundary Commission for England.


The Scrutiny Board was informed that the Boundary Commission for England is reviewing the responses received in relation to first and secondary stages of consultation on proposed new constituency boundaries.


Cllr Coupar put on record her thanks for the work of the elections team.





Members of the Scrutiny Board agreed:


-  To note the report.


-  The Head of Electoral Services will review the wording contained in voter packs that sets out the options for depositing a postal vote at a polling station.


-  The Head of Electoral Services will review whether a link to information in other languages can be provided within the postal voting pack.


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