This note sets out the background to the debate about televised debates between party leaders during a general election campaign.
A general election is to be held in the UK on Thursday 12 December 2019. This followed the passing of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019.
The general election timetable for 2019, below, is derived from the electoral timetable published by the Electoral Commission.
Election timetables for UK general and by-elections are laid down in the Parliamentary Elections Rules in Schedule 1 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as subsequently amended, most recently in 2013.
Section 14 of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 extended the length of the timetable for general elections from 17 to 25 days. This provision was brought into force on 6 April 2014 by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Commencement No 5 and Transitory Provisions) Order 2014.
For the purposes of the election timetable, weekends and bank holidays are disregarded. A bank holiday in one part of the UK is disregarded in the whole of the UK. The 2019 General Election campaign includes the St Andrew’s Day bank holiday in Scotland, on Monday 2 December.
Further background information on election timetables is available in the Library briefing paper, Election timetables (RP 15/11, 3 March 2015).
Electoral registration deadlines are not contained in election timetables legislation. They are contained in separate registration regulations. There are separate sets of regulations for the three legal jurisdictions of the UK.
Bank holidays are also disregarded in computing deadlines for electoral registration. This meant that the Government had to bring forward a technical amendment to the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill during its passage in the House of Commons.
The St Andrew’s Day bank holiday in Scotland would have led to a different registration deadline in Scotland to the rest of the UK. The Government amendment ensured that the registration deadline is the same for the whole of the UK.
Applications to register to vote for the election must be made by midnight on Tuesday, 26 November 2019.
|Day 0||Dissolution of Parliament just after midnight at the start of the day||Wed||06/11/2019|
|Issue of writs|
|Day 1||Receipt of writs||Thurs||07/11/2019|
|Day 3||Last day for publication of notice of election (4pm)||Mon||11/11/2019|
|Day 6||Deadline for candidates to deliver nomination papers or candidates to withdraw (4pm).||Thurs||14/11/2019|
|Publication of statement of persons nominated – If no objections (by 5pm)|
|Day 7||Publication of statement of persons nominated – If objections (by 4pm)||Fri||15/11/2019|
|Day 14||Deadline to register to vote (by midnight)||Tues||26/11/2019|
|Deadline for new applications for a postal vote – includes a postal proxy vote (5pm) Also deadline for changing preference between existing proxy/postal vote (5pm)|
|Day 19||Deadline for new applications for a proxy vote (5pm) – After 5pm you may be able to apply for an emergency proxy in certain circumstances||Wed||04/12/2019|
|Day 21||First date that electors can apply for a replacement for lost postal votes||Fri||06/12/2019|
|Day 25||Polling day (7am-10pm)||Thurs||12/12/2019|
|Deadline for emergency proxy applications (5pm) – Emergency proxies are only available under certain circumstances and are not available on demand|
|Deadline for re-issue of spoilt or lost postal votes (5pm)|
The Armed Forces can register to vote as ordinary electors, as overseas voters, or as service voters. There has been concern about the under-registration of the Armed Forces, especially those serving overseas, and the difficulties they face in participating in the electoral process more generally.The Note also gives a brief history of how the system of voting by members of the Armed Forces has changed, particularly during the periods directly after each World War.
Constituency-level data on electorates in the UK, including data for both the parliamentary and the local government franchise