GE2015 minus 27: deadlines to come, and those which have passed…

Posted: 10 April 2015 in general election 2015, politics
Tags: , ,

There aren’t that many deadlines to meet left in this election. Some, but not that many. 

Some, of course have already passed. The date of prorogation, for example. That had to happen by 30th March 2015. And indeed, it did, and Parliament was dissolved on that date.

But there are quite a few still to come, the most important of which is the next one, in ten days, the last date on which you can register as a voter for this year’s election. I really can’t stress this enough: it’s important to register to vote. Even if you decide not to vote in the election (I really hope you do vote), unless you’re registered you won’t have that choice. 

So, Monday 20th April is the Voter registration deadline 2015. It’s very easy to register to vote. I promise. It only takes a couple of minutes and gives you the opportunity to vote. It’s as simple as that. Click here to register to vote.

Ok, the next deadline is not quite as important, but it’s a biggie. It’s the day after the voter registration deadline. 5 pm Tuesday 21st April is the deadline if you want to apply for a postal vote or a proxy postal vote.Click here to find out more about that.

Exactly a week later, at 5pm on Tuesday 28th April is the deadline for proxy vote applications.

And then there’s the date of the election, obviously. Polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm on 7th May 2015..

I mentioned that some deadlines had passed. There’s one that passed yesterday. If you wanted to stand for election on 7th May and didn’t get your nomination papers in by 4pm yesterday, you’re out of luck, I’m afraid. You’re not standing in the election on 7th May. You’re not going to be a candidate for the next general election. Well, not unless a very specific set of circumstances occur, and I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The deadline for prospective parliamentary candidates was all over social media most of the day yesterday. (I understand that the remainder of the day had something to do with newspapers revealing that Ed Miliband went out with a woman, stopped going out with a woman, then started going out with the woman and they later married. I have no idea why this was news, but it apparently was. Newspapers, eh? Remember when they printed news?)

But I digress. The deadline for registration as a candidate was yesterday at 4pm, and it occurred to me to wonder: if the names (and party affiliations) are set as of 4pm yesterday, what happens if someone dies? Do they stay on the ballot paper? Or what happens if – far more likely, let’s be fair – a UKIP candidate says something racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and is suspended or expelled from the party? Are they removed from the ballot? Do they stay on the ballot with their party affiliation blanked out? What happens?

Well, I’m a great believer in going to the best, most knowledgeable sources, so I called the best, most knowledgable source on elections and how they’re run: The Electoral Commission. Took 30 seconds to look them up on google and within a couple of minutes, I was talking to the right person. What she told me made perfect sense on the one hand, and seems completely nuts on the other. Both at the same time. Which, if nothing else, proves that British elections are run in a way that exemplifies so much of British public life.

OK, so yesterday was the last time anyone could be added to the ballot for the election on 7th May 2015. Note that qualifier, because in once circumstance – and only in one circumstance – it’s important. It’s the same circumstance to which I referred to four paragraphs back. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

I just realised that some people reading this are not going to be from the UK, so they’ll have differently styled and formatted ballot papers. And I know at least one person reading this (Hi, Phil) will be voting in his first general election. So just for clarity, here’s what an annotated sample of the important bit of a ballot paper for a constituency parliamentary election looks like, courtesy of the BBC:

So, as of 4:01pm yesterday, the names and party affiliations (if any; some candidates run as ‘independent’) appearing on the ballot paper for a parliamentary constituency were set. That’s it. They can’t be changed.

What happens if a candidate is suspended from the party for some reason between now and 7th May? Well, as far as the ballot paper is concerned, not a damned thing. The ballot paper is set. They appear on the ballot paper as per their nomination papers. What if they are expelled from the party? Same thing. What if they join another party and repudiate everything they had up until that time espoused? Same. Thing, i.e. Nothing.

The ballot paper for 7th May 2015 is now set.

All right, but what happens if a candidate dies? Well, there are simple rules, with one qualification: whether or not the candidate is standing as an independent candidate or whether they’re standing as a party representative. 

If they’re an independent candidate, then they’re just removed from the ballot paper. Simple as that.

If they’re standing as a representative of a registered political party… well, here’s that special circumstance. If a candidate for a registered political party dies between the deadline for nomination and the election itself… theconstituency  election is postponed. The party concerned is given time to nominate a new candidate and the individual constituency election is held a few weeks after all the other constituency elections. So, here’s your chance if you want to stand for election in the next couple of months. Keep an eye out for any candidates for political parties who drop dead, and then apply to the new selection committee, because that’s your only chance of getting in.

So there we are:

  1. As of 4pm yesterday, no-one can be nominated as a candidate for the general election held on 7th May 2015.
  1. Also, as of 4pm yesterday, barring death, any candidate on the ballot paper stays on the ballot paper with party affiliation, even if suspended/expelled from that party.
  1. If an independent candidate dies before 7th May, they’re removed from the ballot; if a party candidate, constituency election is postponed to allow replacement.

Back with something less about process tomorrow…

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