To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the merits of making future general election days a national holiday to encourage greater participation.
4 July 2017
The Government believes that everyone should have the opportunity to vote and has taken steps to increase electoral participation. We are committed to maximising electoral registration to ensure that the largest possible number of people are able to vote in any election.
The Government believes that there is no clear evidence that voting on a national holiday would lead to an increase in turnout.
The Government’s manifesto made a commitment to extending the First Past the Post to all UK elections. The Government’s view is that the First Past the Post system is well-understood by the electorate and provides a clear link between constituents and their representative in Parliament. In each constituency, candidates are elected to represent the views of their constituents and in each case a candidate for whom more people voted than for any of the alternatives is elected. Furthermore, in the May 2011 the UK held a referendum where more than two-thirds voted against switching to the ‘Alternative Vote’ (AV) system and in favour of retaining first past the post. As a result, it would be hard to justify ignoring the democratic verdict in the referendum, and equally as hard to make a case for a further referendum on a more ambitious reform such as PR.
It is believed by some that the introduction of compulsory voting would improve turnout and democratic engagement. However, the Government believes that when participating in a ballot, the position should be that an elector makes a positive choice rather than a negative one. It does not agree, therefore, that the introduction of compulsory voting would be a positive step.