The Cabinet Office has been urged to undertake a risk assessment of its own capabilities to support snap electoral events amid speculation the country could head to the polls in the autumn.

The Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) warned there was an "unrealistic expectation" that polls will always be delivered regardless of the "landscape, timing, funding or the capacity of the professionals administering them".

They said that they remained "concerned" that an apparent "lack of capacity" and the Government's "unwillingness" to allow officials to engage with the electoral community to make "sensible contingency preparations" would "introduce significant risk to the delivery of unscheduled polls".

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"For entirely understandable but clearly avoidable reasons, there appears to be a lack of technical knowledge and experience that we believe urgently needs addressing," the report noted.

"We encourage the Cabinet Office to undertake a risk assessment of its own capabilities to support unscheduled electoral events and to develop contingency and succession plans to ensure that it can best support the wider electoral community in their delivery."

The Electoral Landscape in 2019 report also said the Government should consider the way in which overseas electors can cast their votes - after reports that some postal voters living abroad were unable to take part in the European Parliamentary elections in May.

Peter Stanyon, AEA chief executive, said: "These are unprecedented times in electoral administration, with yet another unscheduled nationwide poll being prepared for by stretched and often under-resourced teams.

"Electoral administrators always deliver but cracks are beginning to show. The need for urgent and positive action to support electoral delivery is more pressing than ever."

Labour's shadow minister for voter engagement Cat Smith said: "This damning report highlights the wilful neglect of this government towards our electoral system.

"It is widely accepted that our electoral laws are in desperate need of reform yet the Tories have done nothing to address this.

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"It was even the Government's refusal to innovate that led to the democratic disaster at European elections which saw thousands of electors denied their vote.

"We cannot allow the Tories to undermine our democratic processes, which is why we need a comprehensive review of our entire electoral framework as a matter of urgency."

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "We are confident in our system's preparedness for future elections. But we are always looking for ways to improve our electoral system and will carefully consider the recommendations of this report.

"We appreciate the vital work of electoral administrators in maintaining our democracy."