The Electoral Management Board for Scotland (EMB) was created by the Local Electoral Administration (Scotland) Act 2011, which gave the Board “the general function of co-ordinating the administration of Local Government elections in Scotland.” This involves two specific roles:
- assisting local authorities and other persons in carrying out their functions in relation to Local Government elections; and
- promoting best practice in Local Government elections by providing information, advice or training (or otherwise).
The Board is composed of eight members; five are Returning Officers (or their Deputes) and three are Electoral Registration Officers. These are appointed by a Convener, who is in turn appointed by Scottish Ministers following a process of open competition. Advisors from the professional associations working in electoral administration, SOLAR and the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA), also attend the Board meetings. The Electoral Commission, the Scottish Government, Scotland Office and COSLA also have representatives at each meeting, acting as official advisors to provide support and advice.
The EMB’s prime focus is ensuring that the interests of the voter are kept at the centre of all elections planning and administration. Much use is made of the close community of electoral professionals in Scotland and it seeks to operate by consensus rather than formal direction, wherever possible. However, the Convener does have a power to issue directions to Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers in relation to their duties around Local Government elections if required.
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