News

Welsh Gov proposes voting in supermarkets and secondary schools

03 Aug 2021 3 minutes Read
Voting in Wales

People could be able to elect their local councillors as they finish lessons or as part of their weekly shop, as part of efforts to make voting easier.

The Welsh Government is exploring with local authorities whether flexible voting pilots can take place in next year’s local government elections.

Voting in different spaces is being considered to provide voters with easier access in familiar environments.

The Welsh Government says polling stations in secondary schools and colleges would allow young people easy access to democracy, following legislation giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote in Wales. Consideration is also being given to sites such as leisure centres or supermarkets.

It adds more flexible voting could also be achieved through early voting. This could see polling stations open the day before or the weekend before an election, or across multiple days. It would supplement postal voting as a way to give people more options to vote in advance.

People may also be able to vote at any polling station in a local authority area, instead of having to vote at an appointed polling station. This is currently based on where a person lives, but may not always be the most convenient location.

Digital solutions around electoral registers would be needed to make some of these things happen and pilots would help develop a thorough understanding of how this would work best.

The Welsh Government outlined these ideas in a letter to the Welsh Local Government Association, with the intention to explore them further in next May’s elections.

Local authorities are now considering whether they would like to progress any of these ideas for the 2022 local elections. If pursued, lessons learned would then inform arrangements for future elections, including the Senedd election in 2026 and the local government elections in 2027.

‘Easy as possible’ 

Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for Constitution, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, which is why we’re looking at making voting possible in more places, including in shops and schools. Democracy should be a part of all our lives and if more of us take part, it will lead to better policy making by elected representatives and policies which truly represent the views and experiences of all of us.

“These voting pilots will help us to better understand how we can increase turnout. We believe making voting more flexible and easier will bring democracy closer to everyone.”

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, added: “We have had constructive discussions with the Welsh Local Government Association about the need to modernise the way elections work. We’re now encouraging local authorities to step forward and play a part in shaping the future of elections in Wales. Piloting new approaches at the elections in May 2022 would be the first step in a longer term process that could see radical changes to how people exercise their democratic right to vote across the whole of Wales in future.”

Councillor Andrew Morgan, WLGA Leader said: “A healthy democracy relies on good engagement and accessible elections which fit the modern needs of people in local communities. Constructive discussions have already begun with Welsh Government to look at new ways to bring democracy closer to the people, and we will look forward to exploring the practicalities of rolling out these ideas in communities across Wales.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
#1Chris
#1Chris
1 month ago

Disagree with this idea. Voting should be a conscious act. Putting polling booths in (busy hard to manage) supermarkets makes it an afterthought, like picking up lottery tickets. Better to have low voter turnout where everyone deliberates their choice, than “impulse voting” where people vote as an afterthought or on (ugh) “gut feelings” in a way that lends votes to populists who target the gullible

Shan Morgain
1 month ago
Reply to  #1Chris

I agree supermarkets are not a good idea. I can’t see how they could provide quiet and privacy. But many leisure centres, libraries, cinemas could. However it raises the question of staffing.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

Personally I don’t see what’s wrong with the current system. We are asked to register to vote once a year (at most) and to cast our vote once every couple of years, sometimes more, sometimes less (if you include elections to Y Senedd, local elections and Westminster). This is hardly onerous. After all, it’s not as if we’re asked to travel miles to an obscure location in order to cast our ballot and the voter registration form isn’t difficult to complete either. Really there are three types of people in this world: those who aren’t allowed to vote but would… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

” but at the bottom of every ballot paper have “None of the above” as an option.” With FPTP voting if “None of the above” won nobody will be elected, but if PR voting was introduced someone could be elected. Then Labour & Conservatives may change their views on PR.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago
Reply to  David

True enough, the election system needs re-working. My point, though, is that if you have compulsory voting you have to give people the option of protesting against all the candidates.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

I’m all for making voting easier – now make voting fairer, let’s have full proportional representation in every election.

Alun
Alun
1 month ago

I agree voting should be more flexible. Maybe at weekends or over a couple of days and in more places. However siting a polling station in particular businesses or establishment could quite reasonably be said to skew the vote in favour of one party or another (schools v day centres?). And I certainly can’t agree with using supermarkets. Which supermarkets (we’ve got at least six in my town)? Why not corner shops and small businesses? And why should the government be encouraging people towards chains and multi-nationals? I’m all for loosening things up a bit but voting does need to… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Alun

Vote, in person, on Sunday, would be my proposal?
Yes, and think of the poor people handling those sticky cards.

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.