Electoral Law


Lady Paton, Chair

Team member

Gillian Swanson, Project Manager

The joint project on electoral law has been brought to a conclusion by the publication of a final Joint Report on 17 March 2020.  A summary, quick read summary and news release are also available. 

Existing electoral law has become out-of-date, complex and fragmented with the result that there is consensus in the electoral law community that there is a pressing need for reform.  The recommendations in the joint Report (some of which are set out below) would simplify, modernise and rationalise the law.


  • Absent voting applications should substantially adhere to prescribed forms set out in secondary legislation. 
  • Presiding officers should permit voters with disabilities to vote with the assistance of a companion where a voter appears to be unable to vote without assistance.  Neither a voter nor a companion should be required to make a formal declaration.


  • The secrecy provisions in the current law should be expanded to ensure that postal voting is secret, and to prohibit individuals taking photographs at a polling station unless such action has been approved by the presiding officer. 
  • Nomination papers should be capable of being delivered by hand and by other means such as electronically.


  • The current laws governing elections should be rationalised into a single, consistent legislative framework governing all elections (enacted in accordance with the UK legislative competencies). 
  • The law on absent voting should reflect the fact  that people are choosing to vote by post or proxy at any and all elections for a certain period, or on a particular day, rather than at a particular type of election.

The Report builds on a Joint Consultation Paper on Electoral Law, and a Joint Interim Report which were published in December 2014 and February 2016 respectively.


If you require any further information on this project, or if there are matters you wish to raise, please email: gillian.swanson@scotlawcom.gov.uk.