Elections: May 2021

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:37 pm on 13th January 2021.

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Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 1:37 pm, 13th January 2021

Labour Members here today are so keen to paint a picture of delay that they are not seeing the wood for the trees. The point is that a whole set of preparation has already been laid. If the hon. Member were to speak to her colleagues in the Welsh Labour Government, she would know that those colleagues and I have already had extensive discussions about the merits of, for example, early voting. I have also had those conversations with administrators across the relevant area, who do not necessarily share the merits of that argument. I do not think there is a clear case for early voting, because it introduces extra complexity at a time when what voters need is polls delivered safely and easily.

I also take this opportunity to emphasise that I have considered the case for all-postal ballots, which has occasionally been raised in the House, but there are some drawbacks to that—namely, that it would prevent people from being able to exercise their preference of how they vote at elections. As I said at the outset, it is important to help people to take their preferred choice in how they vote. That is why our comprehensive set of preparations gives rise to people being able to apply as early as they wish for a postal vote, and I encourage people to do so; to take advantage of new arrangements for a slightly extended proxy scheme, which makes sure that nobody would be excluded; and, finally, to vote in person if they wish, at which point polling stations will be covid-secure.