The Liberal Democrats are proposing that when voters go to the polls in May for the Assembly elections, the names of the candidates and not just the parties should be printed on the regional list ballot papers.
Ceredigion MP Mark William s, the deputy leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Regional AMs of all parties work hard for the people that they represent, and build up personal name recognition in their own right among communities in their area. Not putting candidate names on the regional ballot papers, as was the case in 2011, weakens the link between the electors and the elected, makes our democracy more distant and faceless, and decreases transparency.“That’s surely something that no-one can support.”
Pressing Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to make a decision, he said:
“Reinstating candidate names on regional ballot papers is something that’s supported by many organisations... The decision has been with the Secretary of State for many months, and all those involved need a decision as soon as possible in order to make arrangements for the upcoming Assembly elections.You can clearly see why the LibDems want this to happen as its likely that if they are to even keep their current number of AM they are going to have to rely on the Top Up system of the Regional list and hopefully for them the and the recognition factor of their top candidates.
“I do hope he will support our calls.”
Labour who in a good year in the constituencies could find it not having any Regional AMs via the "Top Up" claims it could lead to “confusion” if the names of candidates standing on the regional lists – used to elected 20 of the 60 Assembly Members – are printed arguing that .
We do not believe that the current format of regional ballot papers should be changed. The inclusion of candidates’ names on regional ballots where parties stand up to 12 candidates will lead to confusion and practical difficulties for both voters and counting staff.
“Experience has shown that when candidate names were included (prior to 2011) that many voters placed multiple cross on the ballot paper, attempted to vote for individual candidates and undoubtedly led to some votes not being deemed valid and counted. There are also serious concerns about the size of the font needed to fit potentially 12 names for each party standing regional candidates.
Seeing that it is impossible for any Party to get 4 AMs elected to a region and probably 2 is the maximum. Then having only the top 4 on each party list on the ballot paper for each region could be a compromise.
Of course in 2015 you could introduce electronic voting and a system where you are presented with a screen for your "Top up Preference" Indicate a party and are then taken to another screen where the candidates of that party are listed and number them 1,2,3.... according to your own preference.
This would make Regional AM reliant on the public vote and not Party preference it might make them work just a little bit harder.
But that would be even more impossible to carry out than putting four names on the Ballot paper,wouldn't it?