Call for views on the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill


The Scottish Government is proposing some changes to the laws on elections in Scotland.

The proposals are set out in the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill. The bill was published on 3 September 2019.

The Policy Memorandum has been prepared by the Scottish Government to set out the Government’s policy behind the bill.

You are invited to provide your views on these proposals to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

How do the Scottish Government’s proposals become law?

The Scottish Parliament has to examine and approve any bill before it becomes law. The procedures which the Parliament has to follow are explained here.

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee (SPPA Committee) will be examining the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill at Stage 1 of this process.

Stage 1 involves a committee of the Parliament considering the “general principles” of the bill (what the bill is trying to do and how it plans to do it).

The Committee will gather views on the bill from interested people before publishing a report on the bill. The whole Scottish Parliament will then decide whether the bill should continue to the next stage.

What proposals are contained in the Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill

The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee would welcome your views on the proposals in the bill.

The main proposals include—

  • To change the standard term length for both Scottish parliamentary elections and local government elections from four years to five years
  • To give greater flexibility to set the size of all council wards by allowing for two or five member wards, as well as three and four member wards (one member wards will continue only to be possible in island communities)
  • To restrict electors to voting in only one local authority area in Scotland at local government elections held on the same day
  • Enabling provisions to help to facilitate pilots that include some form of electronic voting or other digital processing to be undertaken at a future date
  • To allow people to apply to be added to the electoral register from 14 years of age
  • To allow the Presiding Officer to re-schedule a poll for a Scottish general election in certain circumstances after dissolution, and to require the Presiding Officer to consult the Electoral Commission before setting the date for a Scottish Parliament election that has been postponed
  • Various reforms in relation to the Electoral Commission, to support the use of the new powers relating to elections devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act 2016
  • To provide for the Electoral Commission to prepare Codes of Practice to help candidates, campaigners, observers and on issues like expenses and donations at devolved elections
  • Extending the functions of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland to cover Scottish Parliamentary elections
  • Changes to the way the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland carries out its work

How to submit your views

The deadline for responses is 7 November 2019.

You should send your response in an email to the following address – [email protected]

Your response does not need to cover all of the areas identified above and can just focus on those that are relevant to you or your organisation. Also, you are welcome to provide other information that you feel would be relevant.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language.

If possible, we would be grateful if you could keep your submission to a maximum of 4 sides of A4. There’s no minimum length – emails of just one or two lines are perfectly acceptable.

Important information

Due to the time required to process and analyse views, late responses will only be accepted with the agreement of the Committee.

Before making a response, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data.

In most cases your response will be published on the Scottish Parliament’s website and may be quoted in the Committee’s report or in Committee meetings (which are public and broadcast).

If you wish to request that your response be published without your name, please contact us at [email protected] or on 0131 348 6924.

Thank you for taking the time to provide your views.


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