Plans to scrap remote voting undermine scrutiny and risk leaving voters voiceless – ERS

Posted on the 1st June 2020

  • Press release from the Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release: 1st June
  • Contact Josiah on [email protected] / 07717211630. Spokespeople available for comment

The UK’s leading democracy campaign group has condemned new plans to scrap remote voting and force them to vote in the Chamber from tomorrow (Tuesday).

The plans [1] will see MPs forced to be on the Parliamentary estate in order to vote. It brings to an end remote voting, which saw division times cut from nearly an hour to just 15 minutes online – allowing all MPs, including those shielding, to contribute from home.

Under the proposals from the Commons leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg – set to be voted on tomorrow – social distancing will be maintained in divisions, meaning they are likely to take far longer than through remote voting.

The ERS is calling on the government to negotiate a positive alternative to these ‘clunky and chaotic’ proposals with opposition parties and the Speaker – such as maintaining remote voting for the duration of the crisis.

The ERS led the way in calling for remote voting to be introduced at the start of the pandemic [2].

A spokesperson for the Electoral Reform Society said:

“These plans to force all MPs to vote in person are unnecessary and risk leaving voters voiceless. There is currently a safe, secure and speedy option for voting available: digital voting.

“Since some MPs are shielding and are not safe to vote in person, scrapping remote voting entirely poses a real threat for democratic representation and political equality. The Commons leader and the Speaker must address this as a matter of urgency.

“But the real question remains: Why move from 15-minute safe & secure remote voting to far longer divisions while the pandemic still rages?

“All parties to work together to find a consensus on this – one that addresses the concerns about voters being left voiceless through MPs being unable to attend. Otherwise, MPs risk being locked out of representing their constituents.

“Scrapping remote voting at this time is a backwards step that weakens Parliament. We urge the Speaker to step in to address the very real concerns over these proposals.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] https://twitter.com/PARLYapp/status/1267409083033964545

[2] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/virtual-parliament-electoral-reform-society-welcome-good-progress-but-call-for-clarity-on-voting/ 

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