The Covid 19 lockdown is causing a variety of elections to be held up and My London News reports this has caused a conundrum for the City of London, since its delayed common council elections may clash with the put back Greater London Assembly elections. As might be surmised from the My London News piece (below), 80% of City of London councillors are elected on undemocratic business votes given to bankers and lawyers who work in the City but who don’t actually live here. This feudal voting system is crying out for reform and if business votes were abolished there would be no need for City of London elections that clash with GLA elections – because City resident voters only exist in sufficient number to make up a small ward within another local authority. There is only an election conundrum now because of the out-dated political system in the City; modernise by incorporating the square mile into a neighbouring local authority (or two or more) and the difficulty no longer arises! Here’s the ‘conundrum’ report from My London News:
Voters in the City of London may go to the polls twice on the same day next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s because the Greater London Assembly and London Mayoral Elections were put back for another year.
They should have been held this Thursday (May 7) but the elections were called off to protect people’s health.
And the City of London is due to hold elections for 100 common councillors, as they are called, in each of its 25 wards next March.
But it was asked to look at holding the elections on May 6 2021 – the same day as the postponed GLA vote.
The City is unique as there are four residential wards, with businesses in the Square Mile electing councillors in the other 21 areas. The role is voluntary and common councillors are not remunerated.
Councillors will also consider moving the elections to mid July.
However a report going to this Thursday’s (May 7) policy and resources committee suggests that it will simply not be practical to hold the elections on the same day as voters elect the London mayor and their London Assembly representatives.
This is because City elections open at 8am and close at 8pm, whilst GLA polling runs from 7am at 10pm, so it would be impractical to share the same venue. An Act of Parliament dating back to 1957 would have to be changed to change the hours in the Square Mile.
And having separate polling stations could be complicated.
Residents vote at one of four polling stations for the GLA elections, but 26 polling stations are used for the City elections. So residential electors would have to go to two polling stations if they wanted to cast their vote in both elections.
“This would be onerous and is highly likely to cause confusion,” the report by Charlotte Gordon, the electoral services and city occupiers database manager said.
The City counts votes immediately after the polls close – which would be impossible if the GLA polls were still open until 10pm, as ballot boxes have to be opened at the same time, in case some votes were posted in the wrong box.
London coronavirus: City of London left with an election conundrum because of coronavirus lockdown. Coronavirus delays could impact on City elections in 2021 by Julia Gregory, My London News, 5 May 2020: https://web.archive.org/web/20200506130008/https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/london-coronavirus-city-london-left-18205130