Funding for election services
Section 67 Performance of local authorities in relation to elections etc
393.This section inserts three new sections into the 2000 Act concerning the Electoral Commission’s general functions: 9A (Setting of performance standards), 9B (Returns and reports on performance standards) and 9C (Provision of information about expenditure on elections etc.).
394.New section 9A enables the Electoral Commission to set and publish performance standards for EROs, returning officers and counting officers relating to maintaining the electoral registers and the delivery of electoral and referendum services. The relevant elections and referendums are specified in subsections (6) and (7). It requires the Electoral Commission to consult the Secretary of State and anyone else the Electoral Commission thinks appropriate before determining the standards. After they are published the performance standards must be laid before Parliament.
395.New section 9B enables the Electoral Commission to direct relevant officers to submit reports regarding their level of performance against the standards set by the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission is required to specify to whom the direction is issued and may also specify the elections or referendums to which the report relates and the form in which the report is to be provided. It further enables the Electoral Commission, upon receipt of such reports, to publish assessments of the level of performance of the relevant officer (or officers) against the standards set.
396.New section 9C enables the Electoral Commission to direct EROs, returning officers and counting officers to submit information on expenditure incurred in the performance of their functions (in the case of EROs) or, as regards returning officers and counting officers, in connection with the elections or referendums for which they are responsible. It further enables the Electoral Commission to specify the relevant election or referendum, the form in which the information must be provided and the time within which the information must be supplied.
Section 68 Funding of services and expense of returning officers
397.This section amends section 29 of the 1983 Act (payments by and to returning officer) by substituting existing subsections (3) to (4B) with new subsections (3), (3A), (3B), and (3C).
398.New subsection (3) allows the Secretary of State to specify in an order a total overall amount a returning officer may recover for expenses incurred in connection with the services he renders. The order may specify a figure or specify a formula by which the figure may be calculated. New subsection (3A) also enables him to specify maximum recoverable amounts for particular services or expenses. New subsection (3B) enables the Secretary of State to agree to pay more than those amounts if certain conditions are met, and new subsection (3C) specifies those conditions, namely that it was reasonable for the returning officer to incur the expenses, and that the charges themselves are reasonable.
Section 69 Encouraging electoral participation
399.This section requires EROs and returning officers to take such steps as they think appropriate to encourage the participation of electors in the electoral process. It also provides for the Secretary of State to reimburse the electoral officials for expenditure incurred in this respect, subject to a maximum limit to be provided for in regulations.