Part 2: Amendments of other provisions of the 1983 Act
144.Paragraphs 14 to 22 make consequential amendments to other provisions in the 1983 Act. The amendments ensure that the various provisions are consistent with the alternative vote system.
145.Paragraph 14 amends section 66 of the 1983 Act which concerns the secrecy of the ballot. Anyone attending at a polling station, the count or any other procedure at the elections in an official capacity or as an observer must maintain and aid in maintaining the secrecy of voting. The section has been amended so that the secrecy of the ballot requirements will cover information about how a voter has voted and so will include preferences expressed by a voter.
146.Paragraphs 15 to 17 amend sections 113, 114 and 115 of the 1983 Act which contain the offences of bribery, treating and undue influence respectively. Whilst the nature of these offences and the penalties remain the same, the sections have been amended to clarify that references to “voting or refraining from voting” in the case of a parliamentary election includes a reference to marking (or refraining from marking) choices on the ballot paper. There is a similar clarifying provision in relation to references to “the vote of any voter” contained in these sections.
147.Paragraph 19 inserts subsection (6A) into section 139 of the 1983 Act, which concerns the situation where an election court is considering an election petition and it appears that there is an equality of votes between any candidates at the election. Under the amendments, for parliamentary elections under the alternative vote, the court would resolve the tie by applying the same principles to ties as set out in revised rules 49, 49A and 62 which apply where there is an equality of votes.
148.Paragraphs 20 and 21 amend section 165 and section 166 of the 1983 Act respectively. These sections provide for votes for a candidate in certain circumstances to be thrown away or disregarded. Under the amendments only the preferences obtained or given illegally would be thrown away/disregarded; the preferences that are validly given would continue to be used in the count. This reflects the fact that under the alternative vote system a ballot paper may show a preference for more than one candidate.
149.Paragraph 22 amends section 199B of the 1983 Act which concerns the translations of certain documents. The amendments revise the wording on the enlarged sample copy of the ballot paper that must be displayed at every polling station. The revised wording is in line with that made to other notices in Schedule 10 and reflects that voters would be voting under a new voting system.