Article by Sam Griffin - 8th November 2019

Electoral Roll: Leaving It To The Last Minute

The recently confirmed December election is causing a stir for a few reasons. It’s statistically unusual as the first December election in nearly 100 years and the timing has raised questions among voters, previously unconsidered at this time of year, such as ‘how do I register to vote’, ‘when is the deadline’, and ‘how do I check that I’m registered?’

Voter confusion around the election is rife but an important factor that easily goes unnoticed is how important an active and correct Electoral Roll entry is for a healthy Credit Report.

Over the last 50 years, eleven of the fourteen elections have taken place in the summer, with most being in May. None of the elections has been as late as this year’s in December so, while Credit Reports have existed, this is literally unprecedented. The general election itself may have been squeezed into the final moments of 2019 but registering to vote is definitely not something to be left to the last minute.

Why is an Electoral Roll listing important?

The most obvious reason people register on the Electoral Roll is to take part in elections and cast a ballot for their candidate, but the Register also plays a crucial role when it comes to Credit Reports.

Potential lenders, utility suppliers, landlords and even employers are just some of the groups that check people’s Credit Reports. As part of this check, they will search for an active Electoral Roll listing. Consumers with active and correct Electoral Roll information typically stand higher chances of being accepted. The reason is that these groups want to assess the stability of their applicant – and so in simple terms, the longer you’ve been listed at your current address, the better.

An active Electoral Roll listing also makes it much easier to locate an individual’s data and reduces the chances of a lender being unable to locate the information it needs to come to a decision.

How late can I leave it to register?

According to Google data, for the last three elections, searches for ‘Electoral Roll’ actually peaked either on the day of the Election or afterwards, indicating that many people don’t realise registering has a strict deadline and can’t be left to the last minute. It’s likely that this significant chunk of potential voters will have left it too late to vote for their candidate. This worrying trend highlights the importance of preparedness – not just in terms of ensuring you have the right to vote on the big day, but also when it comes to other significant life events – more on that later.

The deadline for registering to vote in the December election is Tuesday 26 November (Midnight). A rule to follow is that the deadline will always be 12 working days before the polling day.

Local authorities have confirmed that no exceptions will be made if you are late to register. The deadline is the deadline so if you’re looking to take part, make sure you’re registered early.

The twelve-day rule applies for people looking to vote in an election but bear in mind that it will take significantly longer for your Electoral Roll listing to appear on your Credit Report.

After registering, it usually takes a month or two before this update will show on your Credit Report. The exact time it takes will vary, but you should expect to wait a significant amount of time.

In addition, if you register after August, you won’t typically see your Electoral Roll listing on your Credit Report until January, as your application will have been included in the Annual Canvass.

This is where planning ahead becomes important.

Every year for the last five, Google searches for ‘mortgage application’ were at their lowest in December, before seeing a sharp rise when January begins. If you’re looking to make an important application in the New Year too, you’ll want to make sure all your information, especially your Credit Report, is correct long before you go ahead. It’s no good trying to register on the Electoral Roll or correct an error on your Credit Report just before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage – any changes will take time.

How do I register for the Electoral Roll?

If you have a current Electoral Roll listing, your local authority will have sent out household enquiry forms, which simply need to be filled in and sent back. These forms are sent as part of the Annual Canvass, usually reaching constituents in August.

If the local authority receives no response, they may send an Electoral Canvasser to collect the information. They’re most likely to be a friendly and helpful clipboard carrying member of the community, but a heavy £1,000 fine can be issued if the requested details are not provided.

If you misplaced your enquiry form or simply don’t have an active Electoral Roll listing, then the process to have your information updated is fairly simple. Just contact your local council’s Electoral Registration Office and ask to be included on the Register.

How do I check that my Electoral Roll information is correct?

The only way to be sure that your Electoral Roll listing has been updated correctly is to check your Credit Report for yourself. This is the version that lenders will use, so for the purposes of applying for credit, the one that really matters.

Each of the UK’s Credit Reference Agencies holds and shares its own version and so it’s important to check each of them, as discrepancies do happen.

Your Credit Report will detail your registered name, address, date your listing started, and which Register you feature on.

Importantly, if you know you are on the Electoral Roll but can’t find it on your Credit Report, then other organisations, like a potential mortgage lender or new employer, may struggle to find it too.

This usually happens when there is an inconsistency between the address you provided to generate the Credit Report and which address your Electoral Roll listing is actually registered to – something that is very common with flats or where there are multiple, slightly different ways that your address is recorded.

checkmyfile is the UK’s only Multi Agency Credit Report, letting you see and compare information from the three main Credit Reference Agencies together in the same easy-to-understand format. If you haven’t already, you can try us free for 30 days, then just £14.99 monthly, which you can cancel at any time without quibble online, or via phone, email, or secure message.

Ensuring that everything on your Credit Report is up to date and correct is always an important exercise, but if you’re planning on applying for credit anytime soon, it’s crucial. Much like ensuring that you have your say on 12 December by ensuring you’re registered to vote, don’t leave it until the last minute.

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