Electoral reform Bill published

Strengthening democratic processes.

Legislation which aims to enhance Scotland’s democratic processes has been published in the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Elections (Representation and Reform) Bill includes provisions to encourage the piloting of electoral innovations such as digital polling cards and provides powers for elections to be rescheduled in emergencies, for example a Covid-style health emergency.

Under the Bill, foreign nationals living and working in Scotland on a time-limited visa would become eligible to stand as candidates in Scottish Parliament and local government elections – in addition to their existing voting rights.

If passed by the Scottish Parliament, the legislation would ban people from being MSPs if they are found guilty of intimidating campaigners and electoral workers.

The Bill, introduced to the Parliament by the Scottish Government, also proposes changes to campaign rules for elections to improve fairness, transparency, and controls against foreign spending. It will also allow Ministers to provide funding to drive up democratic engagement. Following the responses to the extensive public consultation, the bill does not propose extending candidacy rights to 16- and-17-year-olds.

Minister for Parliamentary Business George Adam said:

“A robust electoral system is fundamental to the success of Scotland being an inclusive and vibrant democracy that makes everyone feel included and empowered.

“It is important that as many people in our society as possible feel they have an effective and independent means to hold government to account and feel encouraged take an active interest in politics and civic life including voting and standing for elections.

“Everyone living in Scotland should have a say on how Scotland is run and the wide-ranging measures in this Bill share the common thread of empowering everyone with an interest in improving democracy.”


The Bill was informed by a public consultation and will now be subject to scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament.


Media enquiries

Back to top