Part 1: Voting system for parliamentary elections
5.Part 1 of the Act provides for a referendum on whether to change the voting system for UK parliamentary elections. The referendum is to be held on 5 May 2011, unless before that date the Minister makes an Order to appoint an alternative date for the referendum. Any date appointed by Order must fall before 31 October 2011. The Act prescribes the question that will be asked in that referendum as follows: ‘At present, the UK uses the “first past the post system” to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead?’ The Act makes provision for the franchise for the referendum, the referendum period (during which controls on spending and donations by campaigners will apply and the official “yes” and “no” campaigns are designated by the Electoral Commission), the conduct of the poll, including absent voting, the combination of the poll in the referendum with other polls taking place on the same day and how legal challenges to the result of the referendum may be brought. The Act also includes provisions which make the amendments to the existing electoral legislation that it would be necessary to make to implement the alternative vote system in the event of a “yes” vote in the referendum.
6.Further details on the alternative vote system are provided below.