The UK’s recent Brexit referendum will probably be looked back on, as political scientists say, as a critical juncture in British politics. It had profound consequences for the governance of Britain, party politics and international relations.
But was it a referendum that was run well? Did the electoral machinery hold up in the face of high scrutiny? In the run up to the poll there were concerns raised about electoral fraud and a high profile crash of the voter registration website.
In a new report, undertaken on behalf of the Electoral Commission, Alistair Clark and I evaluate the referendum. We show that concerns about fraud where eventually misplaced, management systems worked well and electoral officials deserve much praise. But there were other problems such as evidence that electoral services were underfunded and weaknesses with the systems used to compile the electoral register which suggest long term reforms are needed.