Page last updated at 02:34 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 03:34 UK

By-elections 'happen too quickly'

Ballot boxes
The commission says recent by-elections have run smoothly

The speed with which parliamentary by-elections take place could be preventing voters from taking part, the Electoral Commission has warned.

People sometimes only have two days to register for a ballot, it added.

The commission wants the minimum time between calling and holding general elections and by-elections to be increased from 15 to 25 days.

But recent by-elections in Crewe, Haltemprice, Henley and Glasgow East had all run smoothly, its report added.

'Two working days'

Labour MPs were told on Monday that the date for the forthcoming contest in Glenrothes, Fife, would be 6 November.

In its report, the commission said extending the minimum timescale for all parliamentary elections would bring them into line with those for councils.

Andrew Scallan, the organisation's director of electoral administration and boundaries, said: "Short timescales mean that electors have little time - in some instances only two working days - to register to vote or apply for a postal vote if they have not already done so.

"The current timetable also places an unnecessary burden on electoral administrators, who have very little time to undertake extensive planning and training.

"Our concern is that such a timetable could cause difficulties for electors and electoral administrators at the next UK general election."

In August the commission said the UK's system of elections was coming under "severe strain", as it was using 19th Century structures to deal with modern contests.

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