The way we all register to vote has changed.
New registration arrangements and verification of applicants' identities
From 10 June 2014, all new registration applications can only be done individually.
Each applicant will be asked to give their:
- address and previous address
- date of birth
- national insurance number
Each applicant's details will be checked against other records to verify their identity before the registration office can approve their application.
The introduction of individual registration is to help address concerns about potential fraud, and each person's identity needs to be verified before becoming registered.
If a person's name, date of birth and national insurance number are not verified after they have applied to be registered, the electoral registration office will contact them:
- either to clarify any element of their application
- or to ask the applicant to provide documentary evidence, such as a passport, to support their application.
Quicker and easier registration
Electoral registration can now be done online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
. If people prefer they can complete a paper application, which the registration office will send on request.Register to vote at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Initial identity checking for all current electors
Every current elector's name and address will also be checked against other records in order to verify the majority of people at the start of transition to individual registration.
This will take place in late June and early July 2014, and will use secure and tested data matching processes. Once each person's identity has been checked, the majority of electors will have had their identity 'confirmed'.
Each elector whose details has been matched against other records will be sent a letter in August 2014 advising that:
- their identity has been confirmed
- and that they do not need to do anything about their registration unless their circumstances change, such as moving home or changing their name.
Each elector whose identity has not been matched against other records will be sent an invitation in August 2014 to make a fresh application to register as an elector.
- They will be given an individual application form, and asked either to complete and return the form or to register online.
- Those who do not respond will be sent a reminder, and we will also send a canvasser to encourage them to register.
- Failure to respond to these invitations is likely to affect people's ability to vote at the parliamentary general election in May 2015.
There will be some households with a mix of confirmed and unconfirmed electors. This is expected because of the nature of the other records being used to verify people's identity.
Each unconfirmed elector still needs to make a fresh application, even if somebody else at their address doesn't.
The household form
Every year householders are required to complete a household form, which will now be referred to as the household enquiry form.
As we are writing to every elector this summer we are not also sending them a household enquiry form. This is because they can respond to our letter telling us:
- if people have ceased to live at their address
- or if there are new residents who need to apply for registration
In August 2014 we will send a household enquiry form to every address where we do not have anybody registered. The householders are required by law to give the required information.
We will also be sending the household forms to some addresses in multiple-occupancy.
When the forms are returned any new potential electors will be sent invitations to become registered. From summer 2015 all households will be sent a household enquiry form every year.
The electoral register and the open register
Every person applying to become registered is asked to choose whether to have their details excluded from the open register.
Any elector can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
at any time to ask us to remove their details from the open register. You will need to specify your name and address and that you want your details excluded from it.
Exclusion from the open register will not affect your voting rights or credit status.
Further information or questions
If you have any queries about the changes you can email email@example.com.
Using information from the public, registration officers keep two registers - the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).
- The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everybody who is registered to vote in public elections.
- The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation.
The electoral register is used for:
- electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote
- other limited purposes specified in law.
The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.
Who uses the electoral register?
Users of the electoral register include:
- Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
- Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anybody may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by:
- the Electoral Commission
- Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundary for most elections)
- and the Office for National Statistics.
- The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement.
- The electoral register is used when calling people for jury service.
- Government departments may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applicants and employees.
- Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering.
It is a criminal offence for anybody to supply or use the register for anything else.
The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details.
The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.
- Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.
- Removing your details from the open register would not affect your right to vote.
Who uses the open register?
Users of the open register include:
- businesses checking the identity and address of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, as well as when they shop online
- businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers
- charities and other voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other
- charities, to help with fundraising and contacting people who have made donations
- debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed their address without telling their creditors
- direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists
- landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants
- local councils when identifying and contacting residents
- online directory firms to help users of the websites find people, such as when reuniting friends and families
- organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
- private sector firms to verify details of job applicants.
In order to vote, your name must be on the electoral register. Not everybody is entitled to become or remain registered as this will depend on:
- immigration status
- and whether the person is resident at the address where he or she wants to be registered.
There is no automatic registration of electors from other records, such as council tax.
Electoral register inspection
Public inspection of the register of electors
In accordance with the Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 your attention is drawn to the following:
- This Register is open to public inspection, and can be viewed at the Civic Offices, London Road, Basingstoke, RG21 4AH under supervision and contains the names of all those registered to vote in the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane.
- If your details are incorrect or your name is not included in the register, please advise the Electoral Services office immediately by telephoning 01256 845355.
- Extracts from this register may only be recorded by making handwritten notes. Photocopying or electronic recording are not permitted by law.
- Information taken from the register should not be used for commercial purposes, unless the information has been published in the edited version of the register which is also available for inspection.
- Under the Regulations referred to above, anyone who fails to observe these conditions is committing a CRIMINAL offence. The penalty is a fine of up to level 5 (currently £5,000)
How to register as an elector
You will need to complete an application to register as an elector. You can do this at any time:
- online using the secure national registration service
- or by returning a paper application form
Online registration service
The online service is free, quick and easy to use. If you register using that service you can ask for an email acknowledgement of your application when it is being sent to the electoral registration office.
The electoral registration office will contact you once your application has been received and processed either to confirm your new registration or to ask for more details.
Register to vote online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
You could instead ask us to send you a registration form by post, which will take a few days. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name(s) and address.
Changing your name
If you have changed your name but your address remains the same:
- email the electoral registration team, giving us your previous name and your address, and we will send you a change of details form
- you will need to provide supporting evidence, such as:
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
- deed poll
- amended birth certificate.
If you have changed your name and you have also moved address:
- you should make a fresh registration application using the secure online service
- your name, date or birth and national insurance number will be verified against other records, and if your name is not verified you will be asked to provide evidence of your identity.
If you are a British citizen living outside the UK but you were resident and registered as an elector in the UK during the past 15 years, you can apply to be registered as an overseas elector.
Crown Servants and British Council overseas
People employed by the government or by the British Council to work overseas for considerable periods can apply to register as Crown Servants. To do this, you will need to fill out the Crown Servant elector application form.
Note, however, that overseas electors cannot vote at local elections.