Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Returning officers set to lose fees for poor performance

Returning officers at elections who fail to complete their job properly will no longer be entitled to claim their entire fee. That's a proposal being put forward as part of the new Electoral Registration Bill which also introduces individual registration to combat fraud.

At present, returning officers are paid a large fee for their work. They would suggest that it is a fee which is justified given the high profile of the role and the responsibilities involved. It is a role which is usually filled by the chief executive of the local authority and the fees often range between £12,000 and £20,000.

But what seems off-kilter is that the post-holders are still entitled to the full amount even if they deliver a less than perfect election. In recent elections around the UK we have seen missing marked registers, wrongly tallied vote numbers and even ballot boxes which have gone uncounted.

I have worked with many returning officers in my career and, sadly, they have not all been excellent. The role - and fees - have sometimes been picked up by someone who doesn't know the job and is blind to the complexities involved.

No comments: