Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021

Citation2021 asc 1


Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021

2021 asc 1

An Act of Senedd Cymru to make provision about local government; local government finance; local government elections; electoral registration and electoral administration; and for connected purposes.

[20 January 2021]

Having been passed by Senedd Cymru and having received the assent of Her Majesty, it is enacted as follows:

1 ELECTIONS

PART 1

ELECTIONS

Overview of Part

Overview of Part

S-1 Overview

1 Overview

This Part—

(a) provides for the extension of the right to vote in local government elections to new categories of person (sections 2 to 4);

(b) provides for two systems for the election of councillors for principal councils (the simple majority system and the single transferable vote system) and makes provision about which system applies to any particular council (including a power for any councils to decide which applies) and the powers to make rules for such elections (sections 5 to 13);

(c) provides for change to the electoral cycle for local government elections from four years to five years (sections 14 to 16) and extension of the power to change the ordinary day of local elections in Wales (section 17);

(d) provides for registration of local government electors without application (section 18);

(e) makes provision about qualification for election and holding office as a member of a local authority (section 19);

(f) makes provision about disqualification for election or from holding office as a member of a local authority (sections 20 and 21);

(g) makes provision about the display of documents at local elections (section 22);

(h) makes provision about meeting returning officers’ expenditure (paragraph 2(5) of Schedule 2).

Right to vote in local government elections

Right to vote in local government elections

S-2 Extension of right to vote in local government elections

2 Extension of right to vote in local government elections

(1) In section 2 of the 1983 Act (local government electors)—

(a)

(a) in subsection (1)—

(i) in paragraph (c), for “or a relevant citizen of the Union” substitute “, a relevant citizen of the Union or (in Wales) a qualifying foreign citizen”;

(ii) in paragraph (d), after “over” insert “except in Wales (see subsection (1A))”;

(b)

(b) after subsection (1) insert—

(1A) In Wales, voting age is 16 years or over.”

(2) In section 12 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (c. 32) (entitlement to vote)—

(a)

(a) in subsection (1)(a), omit “or fall within the extended franchise for Senedd elections as described in this section”;

(b)

(b) omit subsection (1A);

(c)

(c) omit subsection (1B).

(3) In section 4 of the 1983 Act (entitlement to be registered as a local government elector)—

(a)

(a) in subsection (3)—

(i) in paragraph (c), for “or a relevant citizen of the Union” substitute “, a relevant citizen of the Union or (in relation to a local government election in Wales) a qualifying foreign citizen”;

(ii) in paragraph (d), omit “ or, if resident in an area in Wales, is 16 years of age or over”;

(b)

(b) omit subsection (3A);

(c)

(c) omit subsection (5B).

S-3 Transitional provision

3 Transitional provision

(1) Despite the coming into force of the amendments made by the provisions mentioned in subsection (2) by virtue of section 175(3), they only have effect in relation to a local government election or a local referendum for the purposes of—

(a)

(a) a local government election at which the poll is held on or after 5 May 2022;

(b)

(b) a local referendum held on or after 5 May 2022.

(2) The provisions are—

(a)

(a) section 2(1) and (3);

(b)

(b) section 22;

(c)

(c) paragraphs 2(12), 8(3)(b), 15 and 19 of Schedule 2.

(3) In subsection (1), “local referendum” means a referendum held under—

(a)

(a) section 27 of the 2000 Act or by virtue of regulations or an order made under Part 2 of that Act;

(b)

(b) section 40 of the 2011 Measure.

S-4 Duty to promote awareness and provide assistance

4 Duty to promote awareness and provide assistance

(1) A principal council must—

(a)

(a) promote awareness among relevant young people of the arrangements for registration as local government electors that apply to them;

(b)

(b) take the steps the council considers necessary to help relevant young people register as local government electors.

(2) In this section “relevant young people” means—

(a)

(a) persons resident in the principal council’s area who have attained the age of 14, but are under the age of 18;

(b)

(b) persons of the same age who—

(i) are not resident in the area of the principal council, and

(ii) are looked after by the council;

(c)

(c) persons of the same age who—

(i) are not resident in the area of the principal council, and

(ii) are persons to whom the council has a duty to safeguard and promote their well-being under section 109 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (anaw 4).

(3) In this section, a person is looked after if the person is a looked after child for the purposes of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Voting systems for elections to principal councils

Voting systems for elections to principal councils

S-5 Two voting systems

5 Two voting systems

(1) There are two systems for electing councillors of a principal council in polls at contested elections—

(a)

(a) a simple majority system, and

(b)

(b) a single transferable vote system.

(2) See local elections rules for provision about how each system works.

(3) See sections 7 to 9 for provision about which system applies to a council and how the system that applies to a council is changed.

(4) In this Part, “local elections rules” means—

(a)

(a) rules made under section 36A of the 1983 Act (inserted by section 13(3));

(b)

(b) rules made under section 36 of the 1983 Act that have effect by virtue of section 13(4).

S-6 Key definitions

6 Key definitions

(1) A “simple majority system” means an electoral system where—

(a)

(a) each voter may cast as many votes as there are offices to be filled;

(b)

(b) in the case of an election for a single office, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes is elected;

(c)

(c) in the case of an election to fill more than one office, the candidates equal to the number of offices to be filled who receive the highest number of votes are elected.

(2) A “single transferable vote system” means an electoral system where—

(a)

(a) in the case of an election to fill more than one office—

(i) voters express a first preference for one candidate and may express second and further preferences for other candidates;

(ii) a quota for election is calculated from the number of votes and offices to be filled;

(iii) the first preferences are counted and any candidate whose first preference votes equal or exceed the quota is elected;

(iv) if insufficient candidates are elected under sub-paragraph (iii), the proportion of an elected candidate’s votes above the quota is redistributed according to voters’ further preferences;

(v) candidates who then reach the quota are elected and the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded;

(vi) the excluded candidate’s votes are redistributed according to voters’ further preferences;

(vii) if insufficient candidates are elected under sub-paragraphs (iv) to (vi), the steps described in those sub-paragraphs are repeated until all offices are filled;

(b)

(b) in the case of an election for a single office—

(i) voters express a first preference for one candidate and may express second and further preferences for other candidates;

(ii) an absolute majority of votes for election is calculated from the number of votes;

(iii) the first preferences are counted and, if a candidate’s first preference votes equal or exceed the absolute majority of votes, that candidate is elected;

(iv) if no candidate is elected under sub-paragraph (iii), the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded, the excluded candidate’s votes are redistributed according to voters’ further preferences and a candidate who then reaches the absolute majority is elected;

(v) if no candidate is elected under sub-paragraph (iv), the steps described in sub-paragraph (iv) are repeated until a candidate is elected.

(3) The systems described in subsections (1) and (2) may include other provision for situations where—

(a)

(a) following the steps described does not lead to a candidate being elected, or

(b)

(b) it would not be appropriate to follow the steps described.

(4) This section applies for the purposes of this Part.

S-7 The voting system that applies

7 The voting system that applies

(1) This section provides for the voting system that applies to electing councillors of a principal council in a poll at a contested election.

(2) The simple majority system provided for by local elections rules applies, unless and until the council changes the voting system for the first time.

(3) But in the case of a principal council constituted by regulations under Part 7 (mergers and restructuring), the voting system provided for in the regulations applies, unless and until the council changes the voting system for the first time after the first ordinary election of councillors to the council.

(4) After a principal council has changed the voting system for the first time (including the first time after a principal council is established), the system to which the council has most recently decided to change applies (subject to subsection (6)).

(5) If a principal council changes its voting system, the change takes effect at the first ordinary election of councillors that takes place after the council passes the resolution required by section 9 and continues in effect...

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