Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cornwall misses the boat on second home voter clarification

It seems Cornwall is missing the chance to get clarification of the law on the rights of second home owners to vote in Cornish elections.

Back on 2nd July, the Electoral Review Panel discussed the issue and was told that the law on voting entitlement is very unclear. Although the information provided by the Electoral Commission suggests that you cannot use a purely recreational second home to get entitlement to vote, it seems that the actual law is not so clear.

And so the Panel agreed that the Council should write to the Deputy Prime Minister asking him to clarify the law. My personal belief is that second home ownership should not allow entitlement to vote, but even if the Government disagrees with this view we need clarification. Clarification would need to come in the form of an amendment to the law.

You would have thought that the best avenue for doing this would be the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which had its second reading yesterday. But Cornwall Council has failed to send the letter despite having had more than 9 weeks to do so. And so the chance for the Government to consider the issue and put forward its own amendment has been lost.

Why has Cornwall Council failed to write the promised letter? Apparently, it's because they did not want a letter arriving before Parliament returned to work on the basis that it might get lost or ignored during the summer. We are now promised that the letter will be written within the next 7 days.

If we are to get clarification then it will almost certainly have to wait until another elections bill is promoted in Parliament. The trouble is that, on average, these only come forward every four years or so.


John said...

What a lost opportunity and a lame excuse for delay!
The meeting of the electoral review panel was on 2 July. Parliament did not recess until 27 July. Why could the letter not have gone in July?
Anyway, I seem to recall Nick Clegg was in the office during August while Dave was on his summer hols here in Cornwall – I’m sure Nick would have been checking the post and would have had a civil servant or two on hand to advise.

Anonymous said...

Seen the draft of THAT letter yet, Alex?
Did you get a chance at the Liberal Democrat conference to ask Mr Clegg how he intends to de-duplicate all those multiple property owner entries (including MPs!) across the UK's electoral rolls to ensure no-one is counted more than once when it comes to counting the UK's voting age population and hence defining those proposed new parliamentary constituency boundaries? (with all of the parliamentary constituencies of Cornwall & Scilly within the territorial and constitutional border of our Duchy of course!)