By Claire West
The Electoral Commission will offer all registered campaigners in the referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales the opportunity to reach voters through the Commission’s website for voters: www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.
Kay Jenkins, Head of the Electoral Commission in Wales, said:
“Following the announcement last week that we could not designate official lead campaigners for the referendum, we felt that it was important to seek campaigners’ views on how best to communicate the arguments of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns to voters.
“We made our decision today based on what is in the best interests of voters in this particular referendum, to ensure that they have a further opportunity to hear the arguments of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns.
“We decided that the best way to do this is by providing information to voters through our website. We have offered all registered campaigners — including the two that applied to become lead campaigners — the opportunity to each place a short statement on the About My Vote website as well as a link to their own website.
“The Commission has already launched an extensive public information campaign, which includes sending an information booklet to every household in Wales. This will be supported by an advertising campaign on television, radio, online and in the press that will drive traffic to our www.aboutmyvote.co.uk website.
“Registered campaigners including political parties, individuals and trade unions will continue to campaign to ensure that their arguments are heard across Wales. Our work will provide plenty of opportunities for voters to learn more about how to take part in the referendum and also hear the arguments being made by campaigners.”
The Commission will now ask each registered campaigner to submit a statement of no more than 200 words which it will then place on a specially-designed page on its www.aboutmyvote.co.uk website, along with a link to their own website. Campaigners have the choice of providing both a statement and a link, or just one of these. Campaigners can provide the statements in both English and Welsh.
The information, which should set out their arguments in favour of voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, will be presented on the aboutmyvote.co.uk website in a way that makes clear to voters that the content of it is the responsibility of each registered campaigner. The statement will also need to meet with specific guidelines set by the Commission.