Pre-election staff guidance
We are now in the pre-election period, and as council employees we have to be more careful about what we do or say.
This is because some voters might be affected by what could be seen as an official council statement or opinion, on anything.
There are a number of restrictions relating to elections that we should be aware of.
For example, the council cannot at any time publish any material which appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party. In addition, the council cannot give any financial assistance or assistance in kind, to any person to produce publicity which the council is prohibited from publishing itself. This means, for example, that the council cannot facilitate another person or body to produce prohibited publicity by allowing council facilities to be used by others for such purpose.
From 30 March to the date of the election on 4 May 2017, the council and its staff cannot publish any material which:
- provides general information about the election;
- puts any arguments for or against any outcome; nor
- is designed to encourage voting at the election;
- which seeks to influence voters;
- is politically controversial.
Exceptions to this prohibition are:
- Where material is made available to persons in response to specific requests for information or to persons specifically seeking access to it
- Publish factual information to counteract misleading, controversial or extreme (for example, racist/sexist information)
- Anything done by or on behalf of the Returning Officer for the election
- The publication of information relating to the holding of the poll.
Another area we need to take care in is in the provision of facilities for candidates and political parties.
- For Campaigners’ Meetings
The council is required to make rooms available to campaign groups, designated as such by the Electoral Commission. The list of rooms available is maintained centrally by Educational Resources. No other ad-hoc arrangements can be made by any other members of staff.
- Campaigners’ Posters and Other Advertising
No posters or other publicity material are allowed to be displayed in council offices or on council buildings, fences, lampposts or other street furniture.
- Assistance to Candidates and Campaigners
Assistance or supply of material or photographs to candidates and campaigners is prohibited unless you have verified that they will not be used for campaigning purposes.
- Political Neutrality
All Council staff are required to act in a politically neutral and unbiased manner. That is, they must not, in the course of their work, be seen to favour one political viewpoint over another. It follows that, whilst at work staff should not wear any badges or other items indicating a preference for a particular candidate or a political party or outcome at a referendum. For the avoidance of doubt this restriction extends to, for example, mouse mats and any other personal items staff use in the workplace.
If you have a specific query or concern regarding any activity in relation to the election please do not hesitate to seek advice from the Elections Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01343 563016.