Today is the 30th March, and at midnight Parliament was officially dissolved for the election. That means that it’s time for everything to kick off, and the first thing is to get nomination sorted.
A while ago, I got in touch with our local elections officer to let her know that I was intending to stand. She sent the forms a few weeks ago, and on Wednesday I have an appointment at 10am to go and hand them in, which you have to do in person.
I booked in as early as I could so that I’d have time to fix any problems; nominations are only open until 4pm on April 9th, and after that it’s all over. As it’s Easter weekend in between, I thought it best to give myself plenty of contingency time.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the forms themselves. As well as getting the forms from the elections office, you can download standard forms from the Electoral Commission website, which is helpful. However, if you are standing, I’d get them from the local returning officer - they might have done something a bit different, you never know.
Section 1a is the nomination paper itself. This is the main thing, where you put down your full name, and (fortunately for me) your given name which will go on the ballot paper.
Then, you need ten people to nominate you, known as subscribers. They are people who are on the electoral register in the constituency in which you’re standing, so you can’t necessarily just get your work colleagues to sign it like some sort of charity sponsorship form.
I’ve not got the signatures yet, and so I’ll be spending this evening driving around and getting friends to sign.
The first wrinkle is that you have to verify each of the subscribers against the electoral register, and enter their electoral number on the form before you go to hand it in. This means you need a copy of the register. As a candidate, you can get a copy, but only once Parliament has dissolved, which was this morning. The Electoral Commission have a standard form to request a copy, which I filled in and emailed over early to my local elections office this morning.
I expected a long wait, but to their credit, the office sent the register over within a couple of hours. So, I now have an excel file with 63,000 names and addresses in it, with elector numbers and everything. The restrictions on what I can do with this are obviously very strict, so no I can’t send you a copy!
The register is only for Horsham district, which is interesting. The Horsham constituency only covers about half the Horsham district, and also includes some of Mid Sussex district as well. If I wanted the complete electoral register for the constituency, I’d need to get both district registers. However, all my subscribers will be in Horsham, so it’ll be fine. I might get the other one later if I need to.
Address & Consent
Section 1b is the home address form, which is pretty simple. Interestingly, you can choose to withhold your home address. Instead, your home constituency or country will be printed on the nomination lists.
Section 1c is where you agree to be nominated, and declare that you’re allowed to stand. There are various things that stop you standing, but none of them appy to me, so we’re good to go. This is signed and witnessed, and it’s an offence to make a false declaration on this one, so best get it right!
If you’re standing for a party, then sections 2 and 3 are used.
Section 2 is a certificate of authorisation signed by your party’s Nominating Officer which says that you’re allowed to stand for the party. Obviously, the party needs to be registered with the Electoral Commission for this to happen. They also confirm the party description they want you to use, and which you also enter in part 1a. Party descriptions are registered just like names with the Electoral Commission, and you can choose one of the registered ones to print on your ballot.
This has to be an original signed document. An emailed version won’t do. Mine is currently in the post from Paul, Something New’s Nominating Officer, after I had a slight panic this morning and forced him to do it immediately and send via special delivery! Moral of the story: read the forms more than 2 days before your appointment. Interestingly, Paul is also standing. What happens if you’re the candidate and the nominating officer? I have no idea, but I expect it’ll be fine.
Section 3 is the other advantage to standing for a party; the logo. Each party registers a logo with the Electoral Commission, just like the descriptions, and you can request that that logo should be printed on the ballot as well.
Basically, if you’re a party, you get your name, party name, description and emblem. If you’re an Independent, it’s just name and “Independent”. That brand recognition at the ballot box is one (rather daft, but real) reason to form a party.
The last two sections are for nominating agents. An agent is responsible for handling all the official paperwork of the election, observing the counts, and so on. Currently I’m intending to be my own agent, though if anyone local fancies volunteering, do let me know.
If you don’t name an agent, you act as your own by default, so I’m basically not bothering with these forms right now. I think there are a few more days for nominating agents, so I can still add one if I find someone to do it.
And that’s it for the forms; it’s really not very complex, and mostly involves just writing your own name a few times and getting a few signatures. The only bit left is to go and hand it in along with the deposit.
The deposit is £500, and I’ll get it back if I get 5% of the votes. I’ve crowdfunded that money, to show that you don’t have to be able to happily throw 500 of your own pounds in the bin in order to stand (though I have put a chunk of money in myself of course).
The deposit is paid in cash or by a bankers’ draft, which I thought went out with the ark, and I have no idea how I’d even get one (especially as my bank has barely any branches). Some elections offices may take other forms of payment, though it has to be “cleared funds”, so apparently cheques are no good. Mine is OK with doing an online transfer, though I need to get it done before my appointment, so that they can verify it all there and then.
And that’s it
That’s all there is to it. If anything interesting happens during the appointment to hand it all in, I’ll write more, but I hope it will all go fine. Apparently people get them wrong all the time, but to be honest it didn’t seem that complex. As I say, the Electoral Commission’s guidance is as good as always, so that’s well worth a look.
Anyway, the show is now on the road. I still need help raising money for leaflets etc, so if you like what I’m doing, don’t forget to pledge!