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Questions over local authorities role in elections

Mon, 02 Dec 2019

Story by Local Democracy Reporter Ewan Gawne
Story by Local Democracy Reporter Ewan Gawne
The government has posed a number of questions about the role of local authorities during elections.
 
It’s part of a public consultation by the Cabinet Office, which is undertaking a review of the Island’s election laws.
 
The aim is to remove ‘grey areas’, address the lack of consistency between sets of electoral rules, whilst making individuals, not households responsible for registration.
 
Separate laws govern Manx elections at local and national level, and the government wishes to standardise these into a single a new bill.
 
Issues raised in the consultation include whether to remove the 42-day timetable in which by-elections must be held to fill vacant seats on local authorities.
 
Instead of this period, which has been described as ‘restrictive’ by critics, it’s suggested a contest be held ‘as soon as reasonably practical’.
 
It’s a problem which was raised by Ramsey Commissioners after poor turnout in a recent by-election.
 
The authority felt the 42-day window was too short to build interest in an election, and the commissioners are keen to investigate making it longer, to give candidates more time to canvass.
 
Other suggestions in the consultation include whether the Lieutenant Governor should have the power to extend the terms of local authorities in national emergencies.
 
A question is also asked on whether requirements for registered political parties supporting candidates should be extended to cover local authority elections.
 
The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Monday, 6 January.

 

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