Commission Observes UK snap Election

IN THE PICTURE Left to Right: Constituency Lead and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) staff Hellen Gardner, CPA/EAM Head of Mission from Seychelles MP Hon. Sebastian Pillay, Hon. MP from Canada Matthew Jeneroux, Hon. MP from Anguilla Pam Webster, ECZ Director Electoral Operations Mr. Chomba Chella and Conservative candidate for Hendon Dr. Matthew Offord

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) conducted an Election Assessment Mission (EAM) to the UK’s snap General Election on Thursday, 8th June 2017.

The International Observer delegation comprised 32 Parliamentarians and officials from 23 Electoral Management Bodies across the Commonwealth countries. Members of the delegation were drawn from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Ghana, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Montserrat, New Zealand, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St. Lucia, Tonga, Uganda and Zambia. Director of Electoral Operations, Mr. Chomba Chella, participated in the EAM from 3rd to 10th June, 2017.
Mr Chomba shared some of the highlights of the election with the Weekly. He said that the Observer Teams were deployed to eight (8) constituencies throughout the UK. On Election Day, the CPA UK EAM observed the election in 267 polling stations and 8 Counting Centres.

He said that stakeholders expressed trust regarding the accuracy of the Individual Electoral Registration (previously registration was conducted at household level) and voters’ lists, although proposals were made on the benefits of simplifying the process of verifying individual registrations.

He said that CPA UK EAM Observers were impressed by the general level of trust which underlies the UK’s electoral process. This trust limits the number of procedural safeguards that are currently necessary to guarantee the holding of genuine elections.
The Director Electoral Operations also informed the Weekly that CPA UK Observers attended postal vote opening sessions in six (6) constituencies. The overall assessment of the process was positive in all observed cases. Observers noted that it was the process where technological applications were most employed. However, Candidates or Party Agents were present in only one of the observed constituencies. He said this limited their capacity to monitor and to potentially present objections during the verification process. Concerns were raised regarding the secrecy of rejected postal votes, and the application of guidance on procedural aspects.

Returning (or Acting) Officers managed the process effectively exercising their discretion where appropriate to enhance inclusiveness. The measures for the storage of postal votes were considered to be sufficient.

Mr Chomba informed the Weekly that the Observers noted that, the campaign was highly contested despite the short time available to plan and finance campaigns, and that citizen engagement was very high. Mr Chomba further observed that despite the short planning window for election administrators, the poll was well administered according to the Observers’ findings. CPA UK reported that Election Day was largely calm and orderly, with a steady flow of voters turning up to vote in the observed constituencies.

Election Day operations were competently handled by experienced polling station staff in the vast majority of the polling stations which were observed.

The CPA UK Observers witnessed the opening at sixteen polling stations and assessed the conduct of opening operations at these stations as “good,”. All materials were present and all polling stations opened on time in the observed stations, even in instances where Poll Clerks had to be replaced. Mr Chomba added that the CPA UK’s previous Missions have contributed to positive reforms in the UK’s electoral process.