Changes to electoral registration

Posted by Ben Tumilty in Electoral Roll on 9 June 2014 - Ben is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

You may not be aware of this, but the Electoral Roll registration system is changing. Previously, one person in each household was responsible for registering everybody on the Electoral Roll who lives at that address but this is no longer the case.

As of 10th June every person wanting to be registered on the Electoral Roll will have to register themselves individually, following the implementation of the Individual Electoral Registration (IER). Under new rules, those registering may also need to provide ‘identifying information’, such as national insurance number and date of birth, when applying. The applications will also need to be verified before an applicant can be added to the register, and those who cannot supply this information will need to provide alternative proof of identity.

Why has the government decided to change the system? According to their website, almost 90% of people who are eligible to vote are on the register. But they believe that the new system, whereby applicants will be able to register online, will galvanise the remaining 10% into signing up, due to the comparative ease and convenience of being able to sign up yourself online, as opposed to having to go to your local council and complete the process that way.

With the government wanting to increase voter turnout, it may be that these changes result in a lower turnout than before, as people may not be aware that they are not on the Electoral Roll. There has been a negligible amount of press regarding the new registration rules, and as such many may not even realise the system has changed. There may be more cases of people turning up to their polling station to find that they are not registered to vote, and so cannot participate in any voting.

The Electoral Roll registration process can also take time. If an election is called at short notice, it may not be possible to update the Electoral Roll status quickly enough to be able to vote in time. This issue is more pertinent for those moving house at the time.

With voter turnout at the previous general election at 65.1% (12% lower than in 1992), it is clear that something is needed to stimulate citizens to vote. This has led to calls from some areas to allow electoral registration on the day of voting, a system that has already led to increased voter turnout in the USA. This would mean that if anybody turned up to vote and was not registered, they could sign up and still be able to vote.

Additionally, John Spellar, a Labour MP, has proposed that councils let residents opt in to the Electoral Roll when making council tax payments, applying for a passport, or when using other public or governmental services.

The change in registration for the Electoral Roll will also have an impact on many peoples’ credit scores. Those that are unaware of these changes may not update their Electoral Roll status as a result, and consequently this can cause their credit rating to drop quite significantly. This can lead to being declined for mortgages, being refused loans and other forms of credit, as many lenders look at your Electoral Roll listing as a basic requirement for credit applications.

Here at checkmyfile we would always recommend that you make sure to confirm their Electoral Roll status with your local council when the annual canvass takes place in the autumn of each year, and we then advise that the credit reference agencies are updated with this information. If you have recently moved it is important to get added as soon as possible, rather than await the annual canvass, particularly if you are looking to obtain credit. This way, you are able to have your say on election day, and maintaining your credit in the same breath.

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