Delivering electoral integrity under pressure: Local government, electoral administration, and the 2016 Brexit referendum

Toby S. James, Alistair Clark

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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The management and delivery of elections is a core task for local government officials in many countries, but often overlooked by research and policy makers. This article charts the nature and consequences of emerging pressures on local government officials to deliver high profile electoral events in an established democracy. Through a rigorous and comprehensive survey of local electoral administrators and in-depth interviews, it examines how electoral administration functioned in the 2016 UK Brexit referendum. In so doing, it provides broader lessons about the dynamics of electoral integrity at the local level. Problems with insufficient funds, growing distrust of public officials and late legislation were particularly problematic. Inappropriate campaigner behaviour was concentrated amongst Leave campaigners, reflecting new challenges for electoral integrity as populist movements arise. Problems were less frequent in Scotland, suggesting that different organisational factors are important. The effects of funding deficiencies suggest that austerity agendas can affect electoral integrity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-207
Number of pages22
JournalLocal Government Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Brexit
  • Local government
  • electoral administration
  • electoral integrity
  • electoral management
  • referendums

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