5 things to know about the Electoral Commission
Have you ever wondered who registers political parties? Or who makes sure that elections are well-run? The Electoral Commission has lots of responsibilities when it comes to elections. We work with all sorts of organisations, from UK Parliament to campaigners. Here’s five things that you need to know.
1. We’re independent
We’re independent, separate from the UK’s governments, and are politically impartial. This means we do not side with any political party or view point. We act in the best interests of voters to make sure that elections are fair and transparent.
We report to the Speaker’s Committee, a parliamentary group made of MPs and the Speaker of the House of Commons, who agree our budgets and hold us to account.
2. We don’t run elections
As strange as that may sound, it’s true – we don’t actually run the UK’s elections. Elections are organised and run by busy election teams at local councils – from booking polling stations and hiring poll clerks to publishing notices and declaring results.
We work closely with election teams and provide guidance, support and advice about how elections should be run. We set standards for well-run elections and we monitor them to make sure elections are fair and transparent, and we promote confidence in the UK’s democratic system.
3. We register political parties
Did you know that there are more than 400 political parties registered in the UK? Every one of them has been registered with us.
We’re responsible for assessing applications to register political parties, and making sure that their names, descriptions and emblems follow all the rules set out in law, so that it’s clear to you, as a voter, who you are voting for. You can see a full list of registered parties, along with current applications, on our website.
4. We work to improve electoral law
This needs to change. We work with the UK’s governments, parliaments and other important groups to improve the laws and bring them up to date.
We’ve identified four areas where things can be improved. We want:
- to make it quicker and easier for you to register to vote by improving our electoral registration system
- everyone to be able to vote with confidence, regardless of their access needs
- electoral law that is easier for everyone to follow and which reflects the advances in digital campaigning
- everyone to be able to see who is spending money to campaign and influence voters whether on TV, print or online
5. We regulate political party finance
There are rules around political finance which help to make sure that the way money is spent on campaigns is fair and transparent.
We work to make sure political parties and campaigners understand these rules, and we take action when they are broken. We publish information on political finance every month so you can clearly see how the rules are being followed.
Has this blog got you thinking about elections, political parties and campaigning? This just scratches the surface of what we do. Learn more about our roles and responsibilities.