Skip to main content

Individual Voter Registration

Volume 578: debated on Thursday 27 March 2014

1. What assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the recent data-matching exercise in the movement towards individual voter registration. (903289)

The dry-run exercise to prepare for the introduction of individual elector registration involved matching all entries on the electoral registers against the database of the Department for Work and Pensions. The Commission’s report on progress stated that, although there was still a great deal of work to be done, sufficient progress had been made for us to press ahead with the historic change to IER, which will take place in June 2014. It will enhance individual voter responsibility and the security of, and confidence in, the electoral registration system, and—this is extremely important—it means that for the first time those who are eligible to join the electoral register will be able to do so online.

What my constituents want is reassurance that the introduction of IER will bring about that greater security when a person enters the register, and that it will bring down electoral fraud and bring up confidence in the electoral system.

I think I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. IER will certainly increase the robustness of our democratic system, because a national insurance number and date of birth must be given before anyone can enter the register. For many people it will be easier to get on to our register because it can be done online. Particularly for younger people, who are a hard-to-reach group, the ability to enter the register online, with the necessary information, is a very good thing.

I have recently visited the Huddersfield electoral registration office in Kirklees, where the staff are doing a very good job during this transformative stage. They are worried that some of the technology is showing real glitches, however. Is the hon. Gentleman really sure that the scheme will be ready on time, and are we going to get more people voting at the next election?

The assurances I have received from the Electoral Commission are that the technology will work and that this scheme is ready to run on time. The hon. Gentleman has been a trailblazer, because it is very important that all of us visit our electoral registration offices to discuss with them the plan they have to get people on to the register. He has done that. We should all follow his example.