Cornwall Council tightens up second home electoral registration

Cornwall Council members such as Alex Folkes have been pushing for some time for the council to tighten up its implementation of electoral registration rules in the face of the county’s large number of second homes.

Where people genuinely split their time between living elsewhere and living in a second home in Cornwall, they can register at both addresses (though vote in a Parliamentary election at only one of them). However, there are widespread concerns that many people who register to vote at a Cornish second home are not qualified to do so as they only use it as an occasional holiday home. These concerns have been backed up by the experience of some canvassers when calling on such properties although until now the evidence has been more anecdotal rather than systematic.

Last year a note was sent to all the 2,653 registered second homes that had also been used for electoral registration purposes highlighting the law and the circumstances in which using the second home to get on the electoral register would be illegal. 947 homes stopped being used for electoral registration, suggesting a significant problem existed (though some of the 947 may be natural churn – but without systematic data no-one knows for sure).

This time round, Cornwall Council is going a step further with a decision this week that all applications to join the electoral register from properties registered as second homes will be subject to additional checks known as a ‘Type B Review’. This will involve ensuring that second homes are not used for purely recreational purposes but do actually qualify people to join the electoral register.

Many people, both from the worlds of politics and electoral administration, will be watching closely to see what impact this has on registration numbers and accuracy.

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This entry was posted in Election law and News.
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5 Comments

  • Chris Keating 10th Sep '11 - 10:32am

    Eileen – apart from the fact that it’s illegal – there is in fact little to stop people doing so.

    The fact that a given person has voted in a given election is a matter of public record, so if you (or the Police or the council) know that Mr J Smith of 60 Acacia Avenue in one ward is the same as Mr James Smith of Flat B, 75 Random Road in another, then you can check the Marked Registers after the election and detect whether he has voted twice.

    In practice it rarely happens that anyone can identify who is who and check if anyone has voted twice…

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