The Electoral Commission has today published an update on its assessment of overall progress in preparing for the transition to individual electoral registration (IER), which is due to commence in June 2014. This follows on from its assessment published in October 2013. The report also includes its assessment of electoral registration officers’ (EROs) performance in 2013, including its assessment of how well EROs are performing against the first of two new standards that have been specifically designed to support them in preparing for and delivering the transition to IER from June 2014.
The Commission’s report makes it clear that since its last assessment of IER readiness, significant progress has been made. While more work remains to be done to ensure the required IT system and contingency arrangements are in place ahead of the start of the transition in June 2014, other areas of concern—such as the allocation of funding to EROs—have now been resolved. In addition, the Cabinet Office has detailed delivery plans in place for the final testing of the IT systems and has good relationships and agreements in place with their key delivery partners. It will be important for all those involved in preparing the IT systems for use to support the Cabinet Office fully in this final phase.
Progress has also been made in developing contingency arrangements but full information on contingency planning and the technical support available to EROs during the transition has not yet been shared with EROs. The Cabinet Office should finalise the detail of this work and communicate it to EROs and their staff as soon as possible. In the case of both the IT system and contingency arrangements, the Commission will continue to monitor progress closely.
The Commission’s report also sets out the conclusions of its assessment of all EROs’ public engagement strategies and found that they all have the right plans in place to identify the challenges for their particular local area and what mechanisms they will use to engage with residents to maximise registration.
Assessing ERO’s 2013 performance at the 2013 canvass against the existing household registration standards, the Electoral Commission found the vast majority met all their standards. However, five in England did not meet the house-to-house enquiry standard in 2013, down from 30 that did not meet the same standard in 2012. House-to house canvassing is a crucial element in ensuring the registers are as complete and accurate as possible during the transition to IER and the Commission is therefore working with those EROs to ensure they have plans in place for household canvassing as part of the move to IER.
The Commission will continue to monitor and support EROs during the transition to IER, ensuring that they deliver the activities set out in their plans and engagement strategies, to ensure that the potential of IER to deliver more accessible, more trusted and more secure voting registers is realised.
These activities have been designed to ensure that the Commission is able to answer important questions at crucial points during the transition process, including informing the ministerial decision, which will need to be taken very soon after the UK general election in May 2015, on whether to bring the end point for IER transition forward from the current date in December 2016 to December 2015.
The Commission’s report has been placed in the Library and is available on its website here: http://www. electoralcommission.org.uk/.