Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alistair Clark



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): James TS, Clark A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Local Government Studies

Year: 2021

Volume: 47

Issue: 2

Pages: 186-207

Online publication date: 21/02/2020

Acceptance date: 20/11/2019

Date deposited: 21/11/2019

ISSN (print): 0300-3930

ISSN (electronic): 1743-9388

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/03003930.2020.1719075


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric