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Individual Electoral Registration

GENERAL

Individual Electoral Registration (IER) has been introduced to the UK by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, which made the necessary amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983, and supporting Regulations.

The principal change in moving to the new Individual Electoral Registration system is that the former practice of issuing a single canvass form to each household, which could be signed and returned by any member of the household on behalf of all eligible electors at that address, and thereafter those electors added to the Register, has been discontinued.

Under the new IER system, although a new Household Enquiry Form (HEF) will be issued annually to ingather the details of the eligible electors’ resident within a household, a separate, additional, individual application will require to be completed by each elector. Each application must include the elector’s national insurance number and date of birth. Before the application is accepted the ERO will require to confirm these details with information held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), or certain other sources (e.g. Council Tax records), in order to confirm the identity of the elector. Only when these details have been confirmed will the elector be added to the Register.

It should be noted however that electors will not be required to complete an application to register every year. Once an elector has been successfully added to the Electoral Register they may remain on the Register without making a fresh application as long as the ERO has information to confirm that they remain resident at that address (e.g. from a completed Household Enquiry Form). However, if the elector changes address, or is otherwise removed from the Register for any reason, then a fresh application (including the provision of National Insurance Number and Date of Birth) will be required before they can be re-registered.

DATE OF COMING INTO EFFECT

IER came into effect in England and Wales on 10 June 2014. However, in Scotland its introduction was delayed until after the Scottish Independence Referendum which took place on 18 September 2014.

In practice this means that any registration application received by the ERO on or before 17 September 2014 is dealt with under the old procedure and these electors will be included in the monthly update to the Register which is effective from 1 October 2014. Any registration applications received by the ERO on or after the 18 of September 2014 will be subject to the new IER processes.

The introduction of IER was completed by 27 February 2015 upon publication of the Electoral Register.

SPECIAL CARRY FORWARD PROVISION

There is a special carry forward procedure for any electors who responded to the last annual canvass (held during October 2013 – March 2014) but who failed to return their ITR form. These electors will be retained on the new IER based Electoral Register for a short period of time.

This is currently set at 1 December 2016 but the UK Government has indicated that this deadline may be brought forward to 1 December 2015. Any existing elector who has not been matched and who has failed to successfully return an ITR form at that stage will be deleted from the Register.

SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR POSTAL VOTERS

It should be noted that there is a special provision which affects existing postal voters. In essence the ability to vote by post will be removed from anyone who is unmatched and who fails to successfully complete an IER application before 27 February 2015.

ON-LINE REGISTRATION

A key feature of the new IER process is that electors will be able to register on-line. A dedicated Government website has been created for this purpose and this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

The new on-line registration service is available now. It is particularly quick and simple to use and has many advantages for the elector in terms of the time and complexity required to complete the registration process, i.e. as compared the more lengthy and complicated procedure to complete paper forms. The UK Government is keen to promote the use of this service and this is being heavily advertised in IER documentation and elsewhere in the media.

Both the UK Government and the ERO would request that users are directed to this website wherever possible.

RE-NAMING OF THE (FULL) ELECTORAL REGISTER & OPEN (EDITED) REGISTER

As part of the preparations for IER the UK Government has taken the opportunity to re-name both the “Full” Electoral Register and the “Edited” Electoral Register.

From 19 September 2014 onwards the Full Register will be known simply as the “Electoral Register” and the Edited Register will be known as the “Open Register”.

The re-naming of the two Registers is accompanied by revised wording which is designed to make the distinction between the two Registers more clear and to assist electors to make an informed choice as to whether they wish to be included in the Open Register or not. This revised wording is included in the majority of letters and forms that are to be issued for IER purposes.

It is apparent from the experience of EROs in England and Wales that the re-naming and revised wording has been successful in better informing the electorate. A considerable volume of telephone calls and correspondence has been received from electors wishing to change their option. Any such requests should be directed to the ERO.

Another change that has been introduced is that an elector’s choice as to whether to be included in the Open Register may now be carried forward from year to year.

IER FORMS AND LETTERS

There are many varieties of forms and letters that will be used as part of the canvass process. However, the three principal types of forms and letters that will be issued by the ERO are:

  • Household Enquiry Forms (HEF)
    HEFs will be issued to all households. There are two versions of the form, one which can be pre-populated with elector details where known and another which is blank to be populated by one of the occupants.
  • Invitation to Register (ITR) Forms
    These will be issued to all known electors who have not previously registered as an elector. Additionally, ITRs will be issued to potential electors identified from Household Enquiry Forms (HEFs).
  • Confirmation letters
    These will be issued to all new electors who have successfully registered. There are two variations of the letter which reflect whether the elector is included in the Open Register or not.

It should be noted that in many instances the style and content of the form required is statutorily prescribed.

CANVASS PROCESS, AND TIMETABLE 3 AUGUST 2015 – 1 DECEMBER 2015

The canvass process will generally be broken down according to the following timetable.

*3 August 2015 – 1st bulk issue including:
  • Household Enquiry Forms
*26 August 2015 – 2nd bulk issue including:
  • 1st Reminder Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Confirmation Letters
  • New Invitation to Register Forms
*16 September 2015 – 3rd bulk issue including:
  • 2nd Reminder Household Enquiry Forms (Hand delivered by personal canvasser)
  • 1st Reminder Invitation to Register Forms
  • 1st Reminder Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Invitation to Register Forms
  • New Confirmation Letters
*Weekly From 30 September
  • 2nd Reminder Invitation to Register Forms (Hand delivered by personal canvasser)
  • 2nd Reminder Household Enquiry Forms (Hand delivered by personal canvasser)
  • 1st Reminder Invitation to Register Forms
  • 1st Reminder Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Household Enquiry Forms
  • New Invitation to Register Forms
  • New Confirmation Letters
1 December 2015 - New IER based Electoral Register Published.

* Note the above dates may be subject to change.

It will be noted from the above that the canvass process will be somewhat more complicated than under the previous system of electoral registration. Apart from the issue of confirmation letters, the speed at which the various steps are taken will depend upon the speed of the response from the elector.

For example, in one house the elector may receive a HEF and return it to the ERO timeously.

Another elector in the household, not previously registered but declared on the HEF may then be issued with an ITR form which they will be asked to return timeously and thereafter they may be entered on the Electoral Register.

By contrast the occupant of the house next door may fail to return his HEF and will therefore be issued with a first reminder HEF at the same time as his neighbour is receiving an ITR form.

Should the same household fail to return the first reminder HEF then they will be issued with a second reminder HEF which will be hand delivered by a personal canvasser. It is only when the HEF is returned to the ERO that individual ITRs can be issued to the occupants.

Again, assuming there are several occupants in the household then one may return their ITR timeously and be entered on the Electoral Register whilst another may only respond after the first ITR reminder is issued, a third may fail to respond to the first ITR reminder and will subsequently have a second ITR reminder delivered by hand by a personal canvasser.

DELETIONS FROM THE ELECTORAL REGISTER

In conjunction with introducing IER, the UK Government has also tightened the processes for removal of electors from the Register. As a general rule two pieces of corroborating information are required before an elector may be removed.

CIVIL PENALTIES

In addition to issuing statutory forms e.g. Household, Enquiry Forms, Invitation to Register forms etc, the ERO has discretionary power, after invitation and encouragement, to formally require people to make applications, and may impose a civil penalty on anyone who doesn’t respond to a requirement.

ROLLING REGISTRATION UNDER IER

Rolling Registration is a process whereby electors can apply to be added to the Electoral Register at any time of year, even after the traditional annual canvass has been completed. This procedure will continue as before however any applications will require to be made under the new IER process and must include details of the elector’s national insurance number and date of birth.

The easiest way to make an application is to do so on line using the Government’s dedicated website which can be accessed here https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Alternatively an Invitation to Register form can be downloaded here [link] and returned to the ERO.

IER PUBLICITY

A local awareness campaign giving details of the canvass of electors will be lead by the Electoral Registration Officer with assistance from Angus Council, Perth & Kinross Council and the Electoral Commission.

Local advertising will be undertaken by the ERO in newspapers, by twitter and via local community organisations.




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