Polling day has finally arrived and the 2015 General Election promises to be one of the most difficult elections to call in recent memory. Although the result is uncertain, what is certain is that the electoral process is a focus of risk and control which must be managed if the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality and public confidence are to be maintained.
There are a number of key risks, such as errors on the electoral roll, voter fraud and poor planning, which have the potential to affect results in individual constituencies and call into question the high standards to which our elections are conducted. How these risks are managed is an issue for the Electoral Commission.
For example, the Electoral Commission recognised the danger that the move to Individual Electoral Registration could mean millions of errors on the electoral roll on polling day. To manage this risk all Electoral Registration Officers verified the entries in the register against the Department for Work and Pensions’ database.
Elections in the UK are run by independent Returning Officers based in each local authority area. The Electoral Commission gives them guidance about how to deliver well-run elections and monitor how well they perform against performance standards.
Voter fraud, whether in person or by postal-vote is a serious issue and has the potential to affect individual results in highly marginal constituencies. The Electoral Commission therefore requires that Returning Officers maintain clear audit trail of the issue, receipt and opening of postal ballot packs.
It’s not surprising that the Electoral Commission employs an internal audit function to ensure that it is managing those risks effectively and therefore instils public confidence in the electoral process and outcome.
Read our feature on the role of the Electoral Commission