Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution
On 15 July, I published a written statement setting out the Welsh Government’s framework and principles for electoral reform. The framework sets out the importance of democracy being accessible and relevant to everyone.
The forthcoming local government elections in May 2022 are the first opportunity to make progress towards ensuring elections in Wales are as accessible as possible and that everyone who wants to vote can vote. The Minister for Finance and Local Government has today written to the Welsh Local Government Association to explain how we intend to take forward this first phase of electoral reform. To allow Members to be updated in parallel, this statement is being published during recess.
The Welsh Government intends to pursue four strands of work in advance of the May 2022 elections to enable more of our newly enfranchised voters and existing voters to register and vote if they so choose.
The first strand is to work with principal councils on a selection of flexible voting pilots to test different forms of flexible voting (for example, early voting and voting in schools).
The second is to work with local authorities and the electoral community to increase registration, especially through working with schools.
The third is to build on existing channels to increase overall democratic engagement. This is particularly relevant for young people and their understanding of the impact that local government has on their lives.
Finally, we intend to consider the design of postal ballots, to ensure everything is done to minimise errors and ensure a clear understanding.
Delivering these priorities for next year’s elections is both an end in itself and the first step of a broader reform programme over this five-year Senedd term. In particular, the progress made and lessons learned will go on to inform future proposals for legislation to underpin the Senedd election in 2026 and the next local government elections in 2027.
I look forward to working closely with local government and the electoral community on all these issues.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.