[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Sat Dec 27 16:38:50 PST 2008

Dave Ketchum  > Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 5:47 PM
> I agree that present write-ins are too informal, nominations are too formal 
> to cover all needs, and UK thoughts might help us with doing 
> something to fill the gap.

Dave, I'm surprised you should think any UK experience could help with this one (as you've suggested in a couple of posts), because
our systems for public elections are all based on completely formal nomination.  The details differ, for example, as between local
government elections (local authority councils) and parliamentary elections (at various levels), and as might be expected, there are
fewer barriers for the former (no fees and no subscribers required).  But since you've asked .............

Any political party that wishes to nominate candidates for any public elections in the UK must be registered with the UK Electoral
Commission.  Each party has one registered name (but translations into non-English official languages are allowed), may register one
or more emblems (logos), and may register up to twelve registered descriptions (for use in different parts of the UK or in different
types of election).  Each party must have a registered Nominating Officer, who must sign a certificate confirming consent to the
nomination of each candidate who wishes to use that party's name, description and emblem on a ballot paper.  The state does not play
any part in the private processes of the various parties in the selection of their candidates for the variety of public elections.
There is no public register of the party affiliations of ordinary electors.  (We regard such personal information as totally
confidential and its disclosure is covered by the Data Protection Act.)

For local government elections in Scotland (legislation conveniently to hand!), the date of the elections (in all wards in all 32
council areas) is prescribed in legislation (first Thursday in May, usually at four-yearly intervals) and the Notice of Election
must be published not earlier than the 28th day and not later than the 21st day before the date of the poll.  Nominations may be
submitted on any day after that Notice has been published, up to 4.00 pm on the 16th day before the date of the poll.

The Nomination Form must be signed by the candidate (to indicate consent to be nominated) and by one witness to that signature.
Party candidates must submit at the same time, a certificate of consent from the Nominating Officer of the relevant party.
Non-party candidates may use the description "Independent" or opt to have no description at all on the ballot paper.

A candidate who has submitted nomination papers may withdraw at any time up to the close of nominations, by submission of a signed
and witnessed declaration.  No candidate may withdraw once that time has past.  If a candidate dies at any time after nominations
have closed but before the result of the election has been announced, the election is abandoned and a new election must be held
within 35 days of the date of the abandoned election.

So you see, our system is very rigid compared to the "write-in" provisions that are common in many parts of the USA.  ALL candidates
must be formally nominated, both party candidates and independents, and the names of ALL candidates will be printed on the relevant
ballot papers.  There is NO provision for a "write-in" of any kind and no provision for "None of the above".  (That, of course, does
not stop some of the voters from expressing their opinions very clearly on the ballot papers!!)

Most UK organisations, large and small, from national trade unions to local badminton clubs, would follow essentially the same
procedures, particularly with regard to making no provision for "write-ins" and requiring written confirmation by each candidate of
consent to nomination.

So there you have it  -  but I don't think it provides many (any ?) useful pointers for a robust "write-in" procedure.  "Write-ins"
are just not part of our political culture, but I do understand and do appreciate that, in their various forms, they are very much
part of the political culture in the USA.


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