Electoral Commission opens register for independence referendum campaigners

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Groups and individuals who intend to campaign in the Scottish independence referendum next year can from today (18 December) register with the Electoral Commission.

The referendum campaign rules are set out in the Scottish Independence Referendum Act which came into force today after the Act received Royal Assent.

The Commission is encouraging anyone that wants to get involved in campaigning to contact the Commission or visit its website to make sure they are familiar with the campaign rules.

Andy O’Neill, Head of the Electoral Commission’s Scotland Office, said:

“Campaigners are at the heart of any referendum and in a healthy democracy there should be no barriers to them reaching voters with their views. However, it is also important for there to be transparency for voters about how campaigns are funded and what they spend their money on.”

All individuals and groups that intend to spend more than £10,000 campaigning in the 16 week regulated period before the referendum will need to register with the Commission as registered campaigners and will be required to comply with rules on campaign spending, donations and loans which will be regulated by the Commission. Registered campaigners will also be eligible to apply to be one of the designated lead campaigning organisations at the referendum.

Political parties already registered with the Commission must also register separately as campaigners if they intend to campaign at the referendum.

Mr O’Neill added:

“We want campaigners to comply with the rules and we will provide guidance and advice to help them do this but we will take action if they don’t.”

Campaigners can register online on the Commission’s website and also find its guidance on the campaign rules at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/party-or-campaigner/campaigners-in-referendums

The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 13 November 2013 and received Royal Assent on 17 December 2013. The Act came into force on 18 December 2013.

Who can register as a campaigner at the referendum?

  • An individual who is resident in the UK or registered on a UK electoral register or the register of young voters.
  • A UK-registered political party.
  • A UK-registered company which is incorporated in the EU and carries on business in the UK.
  • A UK-registered trade union.
  • A UK-registered building society.
  • A UK-registered limited liability partnership which carries out business in the UK.
  • A UK-registered friendly, industrial provident or building society.
  • A UK-based unincorporated association that carries on the majority of its business or other activities in the UK.

What benefits does an individual or group receive if they register with the Electoral Commission?

  • A spending limit above £10,000.
  • Access to the electoral register.
  • The right for representatives to attend postal vote opening sessions, polling stations and the counting of the votes.