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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 15:11 GMT
Electoral Administration Bill

This bill improves the security of the election process - particularly regarding postal voting - to help prevent fraud and encourage greater participation in elections.

Responsible department: Dept for Constitutional Affairs
Origin: House of Commons
Introduced: 11 Oct 2005
Second reading: 24 Oct 2005
Committee stage: 8, 15 & 17-22 Nov 2005
Remaining stages: 11 January 2006
Consideration of Lords amendments: 13 & 28 June 2006
First reading: 13 Jan 2006
Second reading: 13 Feb 2006
Committee stage: 28 Feb & 16, 21 & 23 March 2006
Report stage: 26 April 2006
Re-Committed: 8 May 2006
Report stage: 15 May 2006
Third reading: 7 June 2006
Consideration of Commons reason: 20 June 2006

ROYAL ASSENT: 11 July 2006
  • Establishes new electoral fraud offences - including fraudulently applying for a postal vote
  • Lowers the qualifying age for standing for Parliament from 21 to 18
  • Creates a 'Coordinated Online Register of Electors' (Core) including a register for postal votes to enhance security
  • Requires further proof identity for electors at polling stations
  • Allows observers access to all stages of the electoral process

    Most amendments made in the Lords
  • Report stage 12 May 2006: Amendments to make loans to political parties transparent announced by the Lord Chancellor to put loans - even those lent to parties on commercial terms - under the same regulation as donations:-
    -All commercial and non-commericial loans to parties over 5000 will have to be reported to the electoral commission at quarterly intervals
    -All loans outstanding on the day that the new provisions come into force, and any taken out thereafter, will have to be disclosed
    -A party will be allowed to take out a loan only from the same sources from which it is permitted to receive donations, although existing loans will not be subject to that permissibility requirement
    -The regime will cover not only loans, but all credit facilities and the provision by third parties of guarantees and securities

  • Report Stage 15 May 2006:
    -Conservative amendment on postal voting, 'Personal identifiers' (a signature and date of birth) are now needed for every application for postal and proxy voting agreed
    -Conservative amendment to prevent the merger of the National Identity Register and Central Online. Contents 109; Not-Contents123

  • Third Reading 7 June 2006:
    -Conservative amendment introducing individual rather than household voter registration passed. Contents 167; Not-Contents 144
    -Conservative amendment making the Ministry of Defence responsible for the electoral records of service personnel. Contents 116; Not-Contents 203
    Conservative amendment to clarify negligence in handling loans by party and constituency treasurers. Contents 115; Not-Contents 126

  • Consideration of Lords' Amendments 13 June 2006:
    -Conservative amendment on postal voting with 'Personal identifiers' rejected by 281 votes to 202
    -Conservative amendment to make the MoD responsible for registering the votes of servicemen rejected by 322 votes to 138

  • Consideration of Commons Reason 20 June 2006:
    -A rewording of the conservative amendment to make the provision of 'Personal identifiers' necessary to be added to the electoral register agreed to, by 156 votes to 147

  • Consideration of Lords' Amendments 28 June 2006:
    -The reworded 'personal identifier' amendment deemed 'not appropriate' and rejected by 290 votes to 204

  • In March 2006 the cash-for-peerages scandal broke so the government included amendments on loans to political parties.
  • The bill was not passed in time for the 2006 local elections so secondary legislation was introduced, making minor changes to postal voting.
  • In the 2005 general election Sir Patrick Cormack had to wait until 23 June for the vote in his constituency because the Liberal Democrat candidate died during the campaign.

    Existing rules meant that the whole process had to be re-run. Sir Patrick introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to prevent this delay and the government has indicated it will incorporate this suggestion into the its own bill to make the change.

  • Many of the proposals emanate from the Electoral Commission's recommendations
  • The government has downplayed the problems in the electoral system, but this legislation represents an attempt to deal with recent criticisms.

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