Government responds to consultation over individual electoral registration

Sensible news from the government yesterday with talk of modification to its plans for individual electoral registration in the light of comments made during its consultation.

Many people (including myself) criticised the plans to weaken the legal requirement to register, either because they oppose voluntary registration in principle or because even if they are warm to voluntary registration in theory they think that switching to individual registration and voluntary registration at the same time is a recipe for disaster. One should be done, sorted and settled in before the other is addressed.

As has been heavily trailed, the government is indeed thinking again and it is now:

Reconsidering an individual’s ability to opt out [of registering] – looking to either tighten this provision or remove it altogether.

Electoral register formAnother area of criticism during the consultation was over concerns that the last ‘traditional’ electoral register would be too dated by the time the new process is brought in for it to be a good basis for the new process. However, running the traditional process for another year would run up extra costs running into the tens of millions. The government is therefore proposing a sensible sounding compromise of postponing the autumn 2013 electoral register canvass to spring 2014, so that it is much less dated when it is used as the basis for the new process but without requiring an extra canvass.

Many traps lie in the administrative details of electoral register canvasses, which is why I only say “sensible sounding compromise”; we’ll have to see how the details look as people pour over them in the coming days and weeks.

The government is also proposing to make more extensive use of data matching so that different public sector records are used to help populate the electoral register. You can read more about this and the other parts of the government response below.

If you are wondering why bother with individual electoral registration in the first place and why Labour first kicked off the plans for introducing it, see What’s the point of switching to individual electoral registration?

Government Response to Pre-legislative Scrutiny and Public Consultation on Individual Electoral Registratio…

* Mark Pack is Party President and is the editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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4 Comments

  • Michael Thomas 10th Feb '12 - 1:27pm

    Individual registration – fantastic.

    Data Checking – ok, great.

    Data matching for register population. – no thank you.

    I want to see an improvement in registration validity as we have a system based far too much on trust. We have serious concerns about false registrations in our city. We would also like to see more rigorous validation at the Polling Stations when people turn up.

    Also my wife is her own person, I should not have they ability to register her on the electoral register as if she was subservient to me.

  • Chris Rennard 10th Feb '12 - 2:52pm

    I posted a few significant comments on this issue here:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/clegg-signals-new-approach-to-individual-voter-registration-in-evidence-to-parliamentary-committee-27026.html
    It is worth referring back to Mark’s original posting and comments on this issue as in his first link above.
    Chris

  • Tony Dawson 10th Feb '12 - 6:57pm

    @Michael Thomas..

    ” my wife is her own person, I should not have they ability to register her on the electoral register as if she was subservient to me.”

    Why can’t she register you?

    Each person living in a household should have a legal duty to register themselves and everyone else in the building, whether in person or by proxy. Furthermore, there should be a national registration body which registers everyone for elections, council tax, utilities, census etc, and has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to gain up to date info for every house in the land.

    Individual registration, as presently proposed, is a silly and expensive change. Not quite of NHS Reform Bill proportions but silly all the same.

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