Good news on electoral registration data geekery

As GeoConnexion reports:

Ordnance Survey and GeoPlace have welcomed the Cabinet Office’s call for greater use of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) across the public sector, to support the move towards individual electoral registration (IER).

UPRNs are assigned to address records by local authorities at the planning stage and persist for the lifetime of each and every property across Great Britain. This means that every property is uniquely recorded and can be unequivocally identified by any organisation that holds the UPRN in its own records. Ordnance Survey publishes the UPRNs in its AddressBase range of products.

Electoral register formWhat that means is that in future we should see much greater use of a unique reference number for properties on the electoral register, making it easier for people to do things like compare how many people are at a property in one year compared to the previous year (very handy for checking a high volume of last minute electoral register changes to see if the numbers of people claiming to be at properties is suspicious). Political campaigners will also find it very useful to help keep their own records in order.

Currently these sorts of comparisons are bedevilled by small inconsistencies in addresses from one year to another, or one source to another, which mean that the same property is not described exactly the same each time. Is therefore 2a Gladstone Avenue one time the same or not as Flat a, 2 Gladstone Avenue the next? With UPRNs those sorts of problems will reduce, making data more accurate and saving on the time and money such data cleaning questions take up.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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4 Comments

  • Sadie Smith 17th Jun '12 - 6:13pm

    We still need secret ballot, not sitting round table voting in front of family.

  • Richard Shaw 17th Jun '12 - 6:50pm

    @ Sadie

    Actually, I think we need people to be able to vote in whatever way is most convenient for them. I find postal voting to be very convenient and allows me to spend more campaigning. That there may be instances of fraud or coercion is not reason enough to dump the entire system without trying to tackle those things. Otherwise let’s tear up our paper money and cut up our credit cards!

  • individual registration – votes at 16 – vote in order of preference – ‘none of the above’ option for the protest vote – vote for one thing only, not multiple elections on one day – and be seen to vote in your community polling station. Elections should be given more prominence in the calendar by it being an event. Everyone should have an hour off work on voting day to go to vote. Postal votes should revert to exceptional circumstances only.
    Poll cards should go into a tombola at the polling station for a prize to encourage participation; voters could be given a sticker ‘I have voted, have you?’. A 12 hour voting day should be long enough.
    Take the media hype out of it by banning opinion polls and the publication of betting odds.

  • Richard Dean 18th Jun '12 - 10:48am

    Is there some reason why children aren’t allowed to vote? Many children of age 8 or even less are well able to make judgments about how some of the things that affect them should be changed.

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