Tag Archives: CORE

Electoral register database scrapped, at last

Back in 2009 I speculated that the plan for a centralised version of the country’s electoral registers (the CORE project) should win a prize for worst government IT project:

Back in early 2001 I sat in a consultation meeting where the project was being planned, with the data available on CD (ah! those were the days) and then securely online in early 2002 …

One of my favourite memories of this whole saga was when both the Electoral Commission and the Government in fairly quick succession carried out a consultation that went over pretty much the same ground. As a result,

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Electoral register project bids to win “worst Government IT project” prize

There are many contenders for the “worst Government IT project” crown, but the CORE (Co-ordinated Online Record of Electors) project is a strong contender. Eight years on from me sitting in a meeting being told it would start appearing that autumn, it is still years away from delivery – and has just been put on indefinite hold.

In its original guise of LASER (Local Authorities’ Secure Electoral Register), and now as CORE, the project promised to make all the electoral registers for the country available from one central location, in a consistent data format. Since 2000 political parties have to check the validity of donations they receive, which frequently involves checking a name against the electoral register. However, the registers are currently split amongst several hundred councils, in a myriad of formats and, even if you request to receive all the monthly updates, the records which parties have are frequently partially out of date. The result? A mix of inaccurate checks and lots of time taken up both by parties and council staff in phone and email exchanges dealing with queries.

Back in early 2001 I sat in a consultation meeting where the project was being planned, with the data available on CD (ah! those were the days) and then securely online in early 2002. Eight years on, none of that has been delivered.

The planned delivery dates as of earlier this month were still several years away – and now the Minister of State, Michael Wills, has just announced a new, indefinite, delay in order to review how plans to introduce individual registration will fit with CORE.

The delay is perhaps typical of the last eight years. At one level it is reasonable – how you can you proceed with an electoral register project without looking at how changes in electoral registration might affect it? – but at another level it just shows up bad management. The introduction of individual registration has been discussed, consulted, thought about and chewed over already for many years. And it’s only now the Government has decided to stop and think about how it fits with CORE?

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Politics, money and elections: what changes with the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009?

Cross-posted from The Wardman Wire:

The last year certainly hasn’t been a quiet one when it comes to controversies over how parties raise and spend money. Whilst the massive and long-running story of MPs’ expenses has rather overshadowed the previous stories, Royal Assent has just been given to the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009, which is intended to deal with the issues thrown up by those previous events.

New rules on political donations

The changes are intended both to reduce the administrative burden on volunteers such as local party treasurers but also to ensure that more information is revealed as to the actual sources of money received by parties or candidates.

Question over the actual origin of money given to parties have come up in the cases such as David Abrahams’s donations to Labour (where he provided money to intermediaries who then donated to Labour and whose names were those in the public donations records) and the Midlands Industrial Council (who took money from individuals and in turn made donations to Conservatives, but with the MIC being declared as the donor).

In future donations will have to be accompanied with a declaration as to the source of the money (dealing with the David Abrahams type situation). Unincorporated associations making donations of over £25,000 in a year will have to reveal the source of donations to themselves of more than £7,500 (dealing, at least in part, with the Midlands Industrial Council type situation, though that £7,500 is a fairly generous figure).

There has also been ongoing controversy over whether tax exiles and similar should be able to donate.

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