Welsh Government launches consultation on automatic voter registration bill
A bill that would see Welsh voters automatically registered to vote and establish an ‘Electoral Management Board’ has come closer to implementation after being referred to the Local Government and Housing Committee to conduct a public consultation.
If passed, the Elections and Elected Bodies (Wales) Bill will also create a requirement for a voter information platform that would host candidate and voter information for Senedd and council elections.
In addition, the bill would impose a duty upon Welsh Ministers to put in place arrangements aimed at improving diversity within Senedd and local government democratic structures and for individual schemes to be created and tailored to provide support for protected characteristics.
The bill’s explanatory memorandum says it will: “[Take] forward reforms to the processes for conducting community and electoral reviews and abolishes the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (the Panel), conferring the majority of the functions previously undertaken by the Panel on the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales (the Commission).
The public consultation is scheduled to close on 10 November 2023.
“The Bill will enable us to enhance the accessibility of devolved elections for disabled voters and improve candidate safety by modernising and improving the offence of undue influence.”
Commenting on the plans to introduce automatic voter registration in Wales in October 2022, the Counsel General, Mick Antoniw, said the reform would improve the accessibility of Welsh elections.
“We want it to be as easy as possible to vote, with people able to play their full part in our democracy. We also want to create political structures that are more representative of the people they serve.”
A number of electoral reforms have already been implemented under Antoniw, including lowering the voting age to 16 and enfranchising qualifying foreign nationals.