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Electoral Register

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) which local authority electoral registration departments (a) do and (b) do not use bar coding on their electoral registration forms; (257323)

(2) how many local authorities have a (a) Plain English Campaign award and (b) Charter Mark certificate for their electoral registration forms.

A prescribed canvass form is available to all local authorities for the purpose of the annual canvass. The MOJ has not applied for this form to be awarded the Plain English Campaign award but will consider doing so. The design of rolling registration forms is a matter for electoral registration officers.

Charter Mark is awarded to organisations who successfully pass an accreditation process but there is no certification process for registration forms. Local authorities with Charter Mark status may endorse the Charter Mark emblem on any of their publications; it is not known how many print it on their canvass forms.

Information on which local authorities use bar coding on their registration forms is not collected centrally and to do so now would result in disproportionate costs, as we would need to contact every local authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the demographic profile of those people who are most likely not to be registered to vote; and if he will make a statement. (257490)

As the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham (Bridget Prentice) explained in answer to a similar question from my hon. Friend on 26 June 2008, Official Report, column 474W, the Government have not commissioned or evaluated any specific research on the demographic profile of people who are most likely not to be registered to vote. However, the Government do utilise some existing research concerning the attitudes and motivations of the electorate, as commissioned by the then Department of Constitutional Affairs in 2005, as a basis for further work towards identifying an evidence base for policy development and service targets in the electoral field.

The Electoral Commission found in their report, ‘Understanding Electoral Registration’, published in September 2005, that the most likely electors not to be registered to vote included young people, those residing in private rented accommodation and those belonging to certain minority ethnic groups.

Information arising out of the evidence base and the Electoral Commission’s report were used to mount a registration campaign in London for 18 to 24-year-olds and to inform work on registration, which fed into various measures in the Electoral Administration Act 2006.