Thursday, 24 March 2011

Second Home Voting - more information needed

The Council's Electoral Review Panel has called for more information to help it decide what to do about second home owners registering to vote in elections in Cornwall.

The story so far:

Around 5% of homes in Cornwall are second homes and there are fears that people who own second homes are swaying the result of parliamentary and local elections by voting in Cornwall instead of (or as well as) their main residence.

Cornwall Council has written to the Government because the law is unclear and the Government have declined to clarify the rules and regulations. The Electoral commission has clear guidance that states that if a second home is for recreational purposes then no registration is permitted.

The debate today centred around my proposal to use the list of homes for which a council tax discount is claimed on the basis that they are second homes. I suggested that there should be a presumption that registration from such properties should be barred unless the person can show that they should be entitled to vote.

Unfortunately, there was a lack of information in the accompanying report which meant that councillors did not know the likely impact and where we would stand if there were a legal challenge and so it has been referred back for more work and will come to our next meeting - likely to be in June.

I'm relatively comfortable with this result because it is a big debate and we want to get it right, particularly as the Electoral Commission and other local authorities with large numbers of second homes are looking closely at what Cornwall is doing.

1 comment:

CornwallNews said...

It's not looking good for running a verifiable, properly scrutinised and genuine 'One Person-One Vote' UK wide AV v FPTP referendum in May 2011 now, is it Mr Folkes?
Don't you agree it's high time that fact is recognised and that the whole fake UK v FPTP referendum exercise is abandoned until UK Electoral Law, UK Electoral Registers and Chief Electoral Registration & Returning Officer powers are made 'fit for purpose' ?
Until that is done we will not be able to have ANY confidence in any outcome - whatever it may have been.
It's all very well Mr Cameron & Mr Clegg showboating on the back of Middle East aspirations for greater democracy. However, it is now clear that our own voting system is fundamentally and seriously defective and needs a complete overhaul - in order to be able to guarantee 'One Person-One Vote' elections and referendums.
All the best
The Editors