One of JRRT’s key priorities is electoral reform; ensuring that citizens’ votes count, turnout is high, and elections are fair.

John Ault from Democracy Volunteers said: ‘Our work has been transformed by the support we have received from the Trust. It has allowed us to plan ahead for our work over a longer period of time and for us to conduct larger and broader election observations as a consequence.’

‘At virtually every UK election we see so-called “Family Voting’, where one voter affects, directs, or oversees another person voting. It’s generally a man affecting a woman, even nowadays. Seeing behind the curtain in UK elections has really added to the debate about how our elections work and the things that happen that really shouldn’t. Our work was one of the cornerstones of the Ballot Secrecy Act 2023, which made the law much clearer about the interference of one voter with another in the polling station. Family voting has been made much more public and polling station staff should now prevent it from happening, making our elections much fairer.’

Democracy Volunteers

A key grantee working in this area is Democracy Volunteers. JRRT has committed funding towards their election observation work through to July 2025.

Democracy Volunteers is a non-partisan, domestic election observation organisation committed to improving the security and accessibility of elections. They describe their mission as, “to improve the quality of democratic elections, by advising those who legislate for, administer and oversee elections, to enhance them for the benefit of voters.”

Democracy Volunteers maintain strict impartiality and abide by UK and international standards and all volunteers undertake a thorough interview and training process.

In 2023, Democracy Volunteers deployed over 150 volunteer observers on polling day across the English local elections to evaluate the conduct of the election and, for the first time, the impact of the introduction of voter ID. Observers were deployed to cover polling stations as geographically diverse as Newcastle, Ipswich, Dover, Plymouth and Walsall, with 118 of the 230 local authorities holding elections being observed by the Democracy Volunteers team. In total, 879 polling stations were observed.

Their report found that 1.2% of voters were turned away for not carrying the correct ID to vote, or not having any ID at all. Of these people, 53% were identified by observers as ‘non-white passing’; the report notes, “Whilst the totals of male and female being excluded were equal, the majority of those excluded were from ethnic minorities, disproportionate for their number in the wider demographic.” [Democracy Volunteers, 2023, p14]

Democracy Volunteers logo


Full details of all grant funding, including to Democracy Volunteers, is available here.