Government Launches Consultation On Electoral Law

The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to toughen electoral law in order to crack down on threats and abuse towards those standing for election and improve transparency around political advertising.

The ‘Protecting the Debate: Intimidation, Influence, and Information’ consultation, which will run until 22 October, will review whether the requirement to have imprints, which is added to election material to show who is responsible for producing it, should be extended to digital communications.

In past representations and discussions with the Cabinet Office on proposed changes to the electoral law framework the News Media Association has sought to ensure that newspaper publishers’ editorial freedoms and exemptions are maintained, and that they do not face increased risk of falling foul of the law controlling election expenditure, advertising and imprints.

This is critical to the role of newspapers in fostering democratic debate. The NMA  is considering the potential legal and practical effect of the proposals and will be responding to the consultation.

The proposals in the consultation would toughen current electoral law, which includes provisions against undue influence of voters, by introducing a new offence to tackle intimidation of Parliamentary candidates and campaigners.

This new law could see people stripped of their right to stand for or hold public office, should they be found guilty of threatening or abusive behaviour, either in person or online, the Government said.