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Electoral Register: Telephone Services

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what rules govern registration to vote by telephone; and whether he plans to change these rules; (257716)

(2) which local authorities use telephone registration to register electors.

Sections 10 and 10A of the Representation of the People Act 1983, in combination with regulations made under that Act, require an application to be added to the electoral register to be made in writing and signed by the applicant. This applies whether the application is made in response to the annual canvass or at any other time. The effect is that a fresh application for registration cannot be made by telephone.

By virtue of section 10A(5)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1983, once a person is registered, he is entitled to remain on the register until such time as the registration officer is unable to satisfy himself that the person is resident at the address—either because the annual canvass form was not returned or because insufficient information was obtained as to whether the elector was resident at the address at the conclusion of the canvass. There is nothing in this provision to prevent a registration officer from satisfying himself that a person is still resident at the address on the basis of information provided by telephone by the person. As a result, it is possible for registration officers to accept telephone confirmation of a person’s continued entitlement to registration and, in such a case, the person’s entry could remain in the register.

There are no current plans to change these rules.

Maintaining the registers is the responsibility of local electoral registration officers and no central record is kept regarding how many registration officers accept telephone confirmation of continued entitlement to registration.