Watchdog fears ‘risks’ of holding vote for next Mayor of London on same date as general election

Spoilt for choice: voters may be confused at the polling station. Photograph: Martin Deutsch

The potential for problems in having voters elect the next next Mayor of London on the same date as they vote in a general election have been highlighted by a watchdog.

Unless a general election is called earlier, it will take place in May 2020 on the same date as Londoners would go to the polls to elect London Assembly members and the next Mayor.

The clash would mean voters being faced with four ballot papers and different electoral systems.

The Electoral Commission now wants the government to immediately analyse “risks” involved in what it describes as a “complex” situation.

Andrew Scallan, the watchdog’s director of electoral administration, said: “The complexities of the combined polls that are currently scheduled for 2020, including the next Mayor and Assembly elections in London, and an unprecedented number of elections elsewhere, present significant challenges for voters, candidates and electoral administrators.

“The UK government should consider the risks associated with holding these polls on the same day.”

The Electoral Commission also called on the Greater London Authority to “give further consideration to the effectiveness, value for money and risks” of using e-counting systems.

Earlier this year London Elects expressed similar fears about the number of ballots voters could be filling in at the May 2020 elections.

Such complexity is not without precedent, however. In 2010, electors in Tower Hamlets voted simultaneously for the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, three local councillors and their local MP.

A total of 5.74 million people were registered to vote in the London mayoral and assembly elections on earlier this year.