The first elections for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and potentially for elected Mayors in certain English cities will take place on 15 November this year. This is during the ‘annual canvass period’ - the time when Electoral Registration Officers canvass electors to update their registers. The timing has raised a number of issues around the quality of the register available for the elections and the increased burden on electoral administrators of conducting a canvass at the same time as preparing for an election.
The Government has worked with The Electoral Commission and others, including the Association of Electoral Administrators, to consider the options for addressing these points.
In light of these discussions, and following a positive recommendation from the Electoral Commission, the Government has concluded that this year’s canvass of electors should commence and conclude earlier than would normally be the case in the areas where PCC elections are taking place (England and Wales excluding London).
The Government has today issued a direction to all relevant registration officers to commence the canvass as soon as reasonably practicable after 2 July (if not already started); to conclude the canvass on 15 October and to publish the revised register on 16 October.
This will be a one-off approach for this year and the canvass in Scotland and in London will be unaffected. This is the best option available to provide for a consistent approach within and across police authority areas and to ensure certainty for all involved in the process.
The Electoral Commission has developed specific guidance for electoral administrators to follow in exercising their duties in relation to the 2012 annual canvass and the publication of the revised register on 16 October 2012. This is published today and will supplement the Commission’s existing detailed guidance on the annual canvass process.