The by-election in Eastleigh (following the resignation of Chris Huhne) is going to be on 28 February. One of our lovely members asked us on Twitter just now why it was such a short campaign compared to a General Election.
Good question. The by-election timetable is indeed very short. It’s up to the party that holds the seat to decide when to fire the starting gun, at any time within three months from the seat falling vacant, but once they do it is a maximum of nineteen working days until polling day, and possibly as few as fifteen.
This also means a tight turnaround for postal voting applications, which must be in by eleven working days before polling day – next Wednesday in the case of Eastleigh.
In 2003, the Electoral Commission called for a standard five-week timetable for by-elections (and general elections), but the idea is going nowhere.
For much more factual goodness on election timetables, you can read the Commons Library paper on the topic, which was my source for this post.