Electoral reform consultation: easy read
Easy read version of our consultation on electoral reform.
Part 3 – Scheduling elections
Date of Scottish Parliament elections
We are looking at the rules around putting off scheduled Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections because of an unexpected event like the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Parliament has only got limited power to change the date of an election. It must be no more than 1 month before or after the first Thursday in May.
Our experience of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election during the Covid-19 pandemic showed the Scottish Government that we need better arrangements for setting new dates for elections.
In 2007 Local Government elections and Scottish Parliament elections were held on the same day and this caused a lot of confusion for voters. We think it is a bad idea for different types of election to be held on the same day.
Question 26: Do you think the Scottish Parliament should be able to change the date of a Scottish election by more than 1 month?
The Scottish Parliament usually breaks up around 6 weeks before a Scottish Parliamentary election. Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) lose their positions and cannot debate or pass any new laws during this time.
In 2021 there was a special arrangement because of Covid-19 which meant MSPs kept their positions until the day before the election. This meant Parliament could debate and pass any emergency laws that were needed.
If these emergency rules were made permanent it would mean MSPs kept their positions including pay for an extra 6 weeks. It would also mean they were better able to deal with any emergencies that might come up, like the Covid-19 pandemic.
Question 27: Do you think the Scottish Parliament should break up the day before an election so that MSPs can stay in their positions in case of an emergency?
Putting back the date of Scottish Parliament by-election
Our experience with Covid-19 has shown that it would be good to be able to put back the date of by-elections at shorter notice than the rules currently allow.
Question 28: Do you think it should be possible to change the date of a Scottish Parliament by-election if it is no longer possible to hold it on the original date?
Question 29: Do you have any other comments about changing the date of Scottish Parliament by-elections? Please tell us in the box below:
Putting back the date of scheduled Local Government elections
We think it would also be good to be able to put back the date of Local Government elections at shorter notice than the rules currently allow.
Question 30: Do you think it should be possible to change the date of a Scottish Local Government election if it is no longer possible to hold it on the original date?
Question 31: Do you think it should be possible to put back the date of a Local Government by-election, and if so, who should make the decision?
- Yes, the Returning Officer should make the decision
- Yes, the Convener of the Electoral Management Board should make the decision
- Yes, someone else should make the decision
If you said 'Yes, someone else' above, please tell us who this should be in the box below:
Question 32: Do you have any other comments about rescheduling elections? Please tell us in the box below:
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