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Electoral Administration

Volume 572: debated on Wednesday 18 December 2013

Following the debates in Committee of the House of Commons and House of Lords this month to consider the statutory instruments necessary to commence individual electoral registration, the Government confirm their intention to bring individual electoral registration into force as planned on 10 June 2014 in England and Wales and 19 September 2014 in Scotland.

This confirms the intended date for the introduction of individual electoral registration which was envisaged in the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, and which was set out in the Government’s White Paper, “Individual Electoral Registration”, in 2011.

Confirmation of this timetable follows the advice of the Electoral Commission, who published in October their assessment of readiness for implementation, which advised that there is no reason to delay implementation. The Government agree with this judgment.

Individual electoral registration will provide a secure, modern way to register to vote, replacing the outdated system whereby a “head of household” is responsible for registering to vote all members of the household without a requirement to confirm the identity of those placed on the electoral register.

Instead, people will be individually registered, with their identity being confirmed either automatically, through a check against existing Government databases, or by submitting their date of birth and national insurance number, or if this is not available, other approved evidence. Initial testing has established that over three quarters of voters will automatically be included in the electoral register without any requirement to fill in a form. It will be possible, for the first time, to make an online application to be on the electoral register.

The Government will fully fund the costs of transition to individual electoral registration. All electoral registration officers have been notified of the funding they will receive next year to deliver the change at a local level. This has been welcomed by electoral registration officers, who have also been advised that if local circumstances incur higher costs, they will be reimbursed where they have been credibly established.

This extra funding is in addition to the local resources that are annually devoted by electoral registration officers to meeting their statutory obligation to produce a complete and accurate register. The Government expect local authorities to continue this level of funding. The Government will fund and promote work to maximise registration during the transition to individual electoral registration, at a local and national level.

As a transitional arrangement, eligible electors who appear on the electoral register before the introduction of individual electoral registration will continue to be entitled to vote in elections, including the 2015 general election, whether or not they have registered individually. It remains the Government’s intention to conclude this transitional arrangement in 2015, but the Electoral Registration and Administration Act will allow the next Parliament to make the decision, following the advice and assessment of the Electoral Commission, as to whether the transition should conclude in 2015 or 2016.